Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Government Centered Society?

At a campaign stop yesterday in Appleton, Wisconsin, likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney said that President Obama wanted to create a "government centered society."

How is that exactly?

The stock market just had its best first quarter in 14 years. The surge has sent Wall Street analysts, some of whose forecasts seemed too sunny three months ago, scrambling to raise their estimates for the year. "That it's up isn't surprising. It's the magnitude," says Robert Doll, the chief equity investment manager at BlackRock, the world's biggest money manager.

Doll says stocks could rise 10 percent more before the end of the year. That would be enough to push the Dow Jones industrial average to an all-time high and the Standard & Poor's 500 close to a record.

Funny. I thought that President Obama was destroying free enterprise. Ah well, I guess it's back to tapping into the ol' inner rage, ignoring facts, and making things up again.

Get ready for the gun grabbing Obamabots!!

Now I Know Why I've Been Hearing Crickets

"Is there a criminal activity? Perhaps not," Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told POLITICO after last Tuesday’s showdown with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Is there a political influence and connections? Perhaps not. Did they bend the rules for an agenda, an agenda not covered within the statute? Absolutely." 

And with this admission, a spear of reality has penetrated the Bubble and the dreams of many dashed.

Perhaps the disheartened can spend some time trying to find a solution to the very much real problem of China burying our solar energy sector with billions of dollars of grants to their businesses.

You know, actually solving a problem....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Point

Fox Friday!

Boy oh boy, has Fox News changed lately. The right has become increasingly frustrated with its move to at least attempt to be more fair and balanced. Many are moving towards CNN where the likes of Erick Erickson and Ari Fleischer wax poetic on a daily basis.

But this recent column really takes the cake!

5 reasons ObamaCare is already good for you

Fox Fucking News...Whoda thunk it? Here's my favorite of her five points because it addresses some most unwelcome childish dishonesty that has inserted its shriveled penis into the lexicon.

4. The Congressional Budget Office recently cut health care reform’s cost estimates. 

Conservatives have relied on apples-to-oranges accounting gimmicks to suggest the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently doubled the cost estimates for the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the CBO adjusted its estimates to say the Affordable Care Act will cost less than originally projected. Moreover, the CBO has said that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $210 billion.

So much for being concerned about the long as they WIN!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Did you hear the big news? Obamacare is DEAD! After facing some questions on par with the Spanish inquisition, solicitor Donald Verrilli completely blew it, it's all over, and let's get ready for our new president, Mitt Romney.

Well, at least that's what the "liberal" media said yesterday (even though the actual decision won't be handed down until June). Since when are they all in the tank for the opponents of the law? They keep saying that people are being forced to buy health care. That's not true at all. You don't have to buy it at all. If you don't, you pay a tax, which is very, very Constitutionally valid.

Even the actual liberal media is behaving irrationally (see: hysterical old ladies). They seemed to completely ignore the tough questions that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy asked of Paul Clement and Michael Carvin, who are challenging the law. For example, Roberts told Carvin that he was not addressing the government's point, "which is that they are not creating commerce in health care. It's already there, and we are all going to need some kind of health care; most of us will at some point."

And Roberts accepted the fact that the mandate was not an order but a tax. This is important to note because on Monday in response to questioning from Justice Elena Kagan, Verrilli noted that under the law, a person who chooses to pay the tax penalty rather than comply with the mandate will not be considered in violation of the law. So it’s a choice — not a unilateral command. If even one of the conservative justices agrees, he could vote to uphold the law on unexpected grounds. It's entirely possible that you would have four votes to uphold the law under the Commerce clause and two votes to uphold it under taxing power.

Kennedy said the government might be right that the interwoven markets of health insurance and health care are unique. "The young person who is uninsured is uniquely proximately very close to affecting the rates of insurance and the costs of providing medical care in a way that is not true in other industries," Kennedy said. "That's my concern in the case." I also thought it was interesting that Clement acknowledged here that a system of national health care is likely constitutional even though the individual mandate was not.

This brings us to what may happen if the mandate portion is struck down. Robert Reich has an interesting take on this. 

If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate in the new health law, private insurers will swarm Capitol Hill demanding that the law be amended to remove the requirement that they cover people with pre-existing conditions. When this happens, Obama and the Democrats should say they’re willing to remove that requirement – but only if Medicare is available to all, financed by payroll taxes. If they did this the public will be behind them — as will the Supreme Court.

But how could this happen?

Americans don’t mind mandates in the form of payroll taxes for Social Security or Medicare. In fact, both programs are so popular even conservative Republicans were heard to shout “don’t take away my Medicare!” at rallies opposed to the new health care law. There’s no question payroll taxes are constitutional, because there’s no doubt that the federal government can tax people in order to finance particular public benefits. But requiring citizens to buy something from a private company is different because private companies aren’t directly accountable to the public. They’re accountable to their owners and their purpose is to maximize profits. What if they monopolize the market and charge humongous premiums? (Some already seem to be doing this.)

All of this makes me wonder if this is the president's back up plan. Not only is he a constitutional scholar but he's a very smart and pragmatic guy. His opponents are being terribly naive if they are assuming that he fast tracked this case without having multiple contingency plans.

The other way to look at all of this is political. If parts of the law are struck down, that takes a galvanizing principle out of the campaign. In fact, if the law is upheld, the base is going to be very motivated to get out and vote for repeal (even though we all know that Romney isn't going to do that if he wins).

So, I guess I'm not really worried either way it turns out. It's too bad that some liberal folks are so worried that they have all but given up because I don't think they are really considering all of the possibilities here. And that's why I'm truly going to enjoy the "winning the argument/proved them wrong" victory dance that the right will do if the mandate is struck down.

Enjoy it while it lasts, folks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


With the second day of oral arguments being heard in the Supreme Court regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I thought it would be timely to put up a post with my various thoughts on the issue.

First of all, today is the key day as they are discussing the issue of the mandate. I'm wondering the team that is arguing to uphold the law as is will look to this bill, enacted in 1798 by the 5th Congress and signed by founding father John Adams, as an example of how the government can more or less force people to get health care. An Act For The Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen would never pass muster with the Republicans of today. Clearly they would label it as "government overreach" and "something our founding fathers would never do"...even though our founding fathers did just that!

The type of question that each justice asks is usually indicative of how they are going to vote. I think it's safe to say that Thomas and Alito will be voting to strike down the mandate. Scalia is likely to vote that way as well, although there is some early indication that he doesn't like to mess around with bills that Congress have already passed. With Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsberg and Breyer likely to support the bill, that leaves Roberts and Kennedy and I think it's very possible that each will support to uphold the law as is given the other precedents that are being introduced.

PolitiFact has a page up that lists all the misconceptions about the health care law which have, no doubt, helped drive up its disapproval rating to around 47 percent. Here's the one that most people believe but is, in fact, a "Pants on Fire" lie.

Chris Christie slams health care reform as “a government takeover of health care”

While the reform gives the federal government a larger role in the health insurance industry, it doesn’t eliminate the private market. In fact, the reform is projected to increase the number of citizens with private health insurance. We know Christie doesn’t like the national health care reform, but he should know better than to call it a "government takeover." That’s been proven wrong over and over again, making his claim simply ridiculous. 

Yeah, well, never touch a man's paranoia. It's a sacred thing.

The outcome of their ruling is going to be very interesting. How much will it affect the president's chances of re-election?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finally, Some Sense on Patent Nonsense

Today the Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling that allowed human genes to be patented. They sent the case back to the lower court in light of their recent decision that laws of nature can't be patented.

Finally, a ray of light on the Intellectual Property front. The idea that human genes that were simply found could be patented is, so to speak, patent nonsense. The company that found the BRCA gene, which predisposes those who carry it to several types of cancer, had created an exorbitantly priced test. Their claim of a patent on the gene itself was used as a legal hammer to prevent others from researching the gene and diseases it caused. The gene is found in predominantly Eastern European Jewish descent.

The company, Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City, Utah, argued that they should be rewarded for years of research. But the reality is that it's not the science being rewarded, but the legal chicanery that pushes the bounds of common sense and tries to patent things that have existed in nature for thousands if not millions of years.

The discovery of this gene and its function hinged on genetic sequencing and analytical techniques that other scientists developed long ago. If Myriad have developed a new and innovative test for the gene, that would be patentable. But since Myriad used techniques others developed in their research, and had done nothing original, their lawyers decided to pull a fast one and patent the gene instead.

The argument that this will hurt scientific research and discourage development of future treatments is totally bogus. Myriad did the minimum possible here: they developed a test for a gene. They did not find out how the gene causes cancer, find a treatment or a cure. They just sat back to cash in on it. In fact, Myriad was the one standing in the way of scientific progress: the patent on the gene gave Myriad the ability to sue other researchers investigating the gene, preventing them from looking for a treatment or a cure.

Now that would be something worth patenting.

Racist or Racial Profiler?

There's been a lot of talk about whether George Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin as he walked down a Florida street with his bag of Skittles, is a racist. Zimmerman's lawyer says he's not. I'm willing to take Zimmerman at his word: if he says that some of his best friends are black, that he's raising money for an African American church, I'll believe it.

But that isn't really the issue. You don't have to be a racist to be a racial profiler. In 2009, 40% of male prisoners in the United States were black (whites were 33% and Hispanics 21%). In the 2010 census blacks made up 12.9% of the U.S. population. George Zimmerman has taken a 14-week citizen's police academy course. His father is a retired Virginia Supreme Court magistrate judge and his mother worked as a deputy clerk of courts.

Read more here:

Given the incarceration rates, someone like Zimmerman could easily come to the following conclusion: blacks are three times more like to commit crimes than whites. However, that's really not what the numbers say: all they say is that the percentage of blacks in prisons is three times higher than that of whites.

There could be any number of reasons why that is: Blacks are more likely to be jailed than whites. Blacks receive longer prison sentences than whites for the same or similar crimes (as evidenced by now-outlawed crack/powder cocaine sentencing guideline disparities). Blacks are more likely to be poor, and can't afford top lawyers and wind up going to jail for crimes that whites typically avoid conviction for or obtain non-prison plea deals. Judges are more lenient sentencing white criminals, and lighter-skinned blacks receive shorter sentences. Whites who steals millions of dollars in white-collar crimes often get off with no jail time or one-year stints in Club Fed, while blacks caught with a few dime bags can go to jail for the rest of their lives because of three-strikes laws. Many blacks live in poor areas dominated by drug gangs, where young black men are often forced to choose sides in gang turf wars on pain of death, which predisposes them to committing crimes in the first place. The whole gangsta rap/hip hop vibe romanticizes the image of the black man as a street tough. And so on.

Interestingly, the incarceration rates among women are different: white women constitute 46% of the prison population, black women 32% and Hispanics 16%.

Geraldo Rivera has, as always, brought much needed logic to the debate: he says that Trayvon Martin's hoodie got him killed. Because you know what kind of people wear hoodies...

Zimmerman hasn't been arrested because the local sheriff thinks that Florida's "stand your ground" law protects him. But one of the sponsors of that law, former Senator Durell Peaden, disagrees:

The 911 tapes strongly suggest Zimmerman overstepped his bounds, they say, when the Sanford neighborhood crime-watch captain said he was following Trayvon and appeared to ignore a police request to stay away. 
“The guy lost his defense right then,” said Peaden. “When he said ‘I’m following him,’ he lost his defense.”

Given what I heard in that 911 call and what I've read about his history, it sounds like Zimmerman is an overzealous neighborhood vigilante and a wanna-be cop. He has a history of being short-tempered, getting into fights and has had a couple of brushes with the law. He was tired of punks breaking into houses on his watch and he was gonna be the hero.

Our laws are supposed to protect us from people who might do us harm, intentionally or unintentionally. We don't want loose cannons on a short fuse out there playing cops and robbers. Because, as Geraldo so sagely reminded us, it's not just black kids who walk down the street at night wearing hoodies and listening to hip hop blaring in their earbuds.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not Standing Your Ground

I've had several requests to comment on the Trayvon Martin case. Fortunately, Neil Boortz pretty much sums up how I feel. 

Trayvon Martin’s family says that they don’t believe that their son would have been killed if it were not for the color of his skin. I believe they’re right.

The Grand Jury will convene on April 10th to consider this case. I feel it is likely that charges will be brought against Zimmerman, as they should be. He should not be able to use Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute as a defense. You are not “standing your ground” when you are pursuing someone.

And what about the charge of racism?

The more likely scenario here is one of pure prejudice. George Zimmerman saw a young black male in his neighborhood at night, and immediately pre-judged the situation, coming to the conclusion that Trayvon Martin was up to no good.

The simple fact that he was a black youth wearing a hoodie immediately put Zimmerman into perceptual bias mode and that was that. This doesn't even include the likely mental disability that Zimmerman has and his several dozen calls to 911 which ended in false alarms.

In addition, how is it that someone who was convicted of assault (then scrubbed from his record) was able to get a firearm?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This Simple Method

I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I've been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I'm at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.  (Bill Maher in his wonderful new column, "Please stop apologizing.")

For all the bitching I've done over the years about Rush Limbaugh, I have to say that I really hope they don't drive him off the air. I like him right where is...loud and misogynistic!

George Joins The Cult

In the Krugman piece linked below, we see the following excerpt.

For example, last year George Will declared that the Obama administration’s support for train travel had nothing to do with relieving congestion and reducing environmental impacts. No, he insisted, “the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.” Who knew that Dagny Taggart, the railroad executive heroine of “Atlas Shrugged,” was a Commie?

George, I used to have respect for you as at least being a thinking conservative. Now, you aren't even that. Ah, well, at least I have an explanation as to why the right don't like choo-choos.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Somehow, In Their World...

A recent article in the New York Times offers an excellent summation of how truly exciting the future will be in regards to energy in this country.

Across the country, the oil and gas industry is vastly increasing production, reversing two decades of decline. Using new technology and spurred by rising oil prices since the mid-2000s, the industry is extracting millions of barrels more a week, from the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the prairies of North Dakota. 

That's right. And it's simple fact that has driven the right in this country to paranoid fits about the president and the Democrats. How dare they not act like a bunch of granola eating tree huggers?

Taken together, the increasing production and declining consumption have unexpectedly brought the United States markedly closer to a goal that has tantalized presidents since Richard Nixon: independence from foreign energy sources, a milestone that could reconfigure American foreign policy, the economy and more. In 2011, the country imported just 45 percent of the liquid fuels it used, down from a record high of 60 percent in 2005. 

But no, say it ain't so! Somehow they must be plotting and restricting access to energy reserves, right?


The domestic trends are unmistakable. Not only has the United States reduced oil imports from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries by more than 20 percent in the last three years, it has become a net exporter of refined petroleum products like gasoline for the first time since the Truman presidency. 

The natural gas industry, which less than a decade ago feared running out of domestic gas, is suddenly dealing with a glut so vast that import facilities are applying for licenses to export gas to Europe and Asia. 

National oil production, which declined steadily to 4.95 million barrels a day in 2008 from 9.6 million in 1970, has risen over the last four years to nearly 5.7 million barrels a day. The Energy Department projects that daily output could reach nearly seven million barrels by 2020. Some experts think it could eventually hit 10 million barrels — which would put the United States in the same league as Saudi Arabia. 

Alright, well, what does the energy sector think?

“We’re having a revolution,” said G. Steven Farris, chief executive of Apache Corporation, one of the basin’s most active producers. “And we’re just scratching the surface.”

Today, more than 475 rigs — roughly a quarter of all rigs operating in the United States — are smashing through tight rocks across the Permian in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Those areas are already producing nearly a million barrels a day, or 17 percent more than two years ago. By decade’s end, that daily total could easily double, oil executives say, roughly equaling the total output of Nigeria. 

So, why is the right continuing to insist that the president is trying to block energy output? Especially in light of this information?

Mr. Obama’s current policy has alarmed many environmental advocates who say he has failed to adequately address the environmental threats of expanded drilling and the use of fossil fuels.

Well, Paul Krugman has the answer. 

This claim isn’t just nuts; it’s a sort of craziness triple play — a lie wrapped in an absurdity swaddled in paranoia. It’s the sort of thing you used to hear only from people who also believed that fluoridated water was a Communist plot. 

Sadly, I have experienced this in comments with some folks who can't seem to understand this basic fact.

Simple economics suggests that if the nation is producing more energy, prices should be falling. But crude oil — and gasoline and diesel made from it — are global commodities whose prices are affected by factors around the world. Supply disruptions in Africa, the political standoff with Iran and rising demand from a recovering world economy all are contributing to the current spike in global oil prices, offsetting the impact of the increased domestic supply. 

Why it is so difficult to understand the concept of a world market perplexes me.

It must (as is usually the case) the fact that the paranoia about Barack X has taken over. Somehow, in their world, this...

The newfound wealth is spreading beyond the fields. In nearby towns, petroleum companies are buying so many pickup trucks that dealers are leasing parking lots the size of city blocks to stock their inventory. 

Housing is in such short supply that drillers are importing contractors from Houston and hotels are leased out before they are even built. Two new office buildings are going up in Midland, a city of just over 110,000 people, the first in 30 years, while the total value of downtown real estate has jumped 50 percent since 2008. With virtually no unemployment, restaurants cannot find enough servers. Local truck drivers are making six-figure salaries. 

“Anybody who comes in with a driver’s license and a Social Security card, I’ll give him a chance,” said Rusty Allred, owner of Rusty’s Oilfield Service Company. 

is not happening.


As Jon Stewart says, "The Republican Party...rooting for America to fail since 2008."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And Then There Were Six...

A while back, I predicted the election would come down to 13 states. I am now amended that to 6. Missouri and Iowa are going to go for the GOP no matter who the nominee is as the evangelical base in each state is very organized and motivated. And Iowa is doing comparatively better, economically speaking than the rest of the country so social issues are going to have bigger play there. And Missouri has really solidified its conservative base so it's going to be nearly impossible for the president or Senator McCaskill to win there.

But with Mitt's shenanigans in Michigan and the massive movement in Wisconsin to oust Governor Walker, the president can look forward to victories in those states. The heavy Latino population in New Mexico will also turn that state blue and New Hampshire, even with all its stalwart old guard conservatives, will also go for the president due to demographics (the youth and female vote). The latest polling out of Virginia also shows the president with very comfortable leads over all the GOP candidates. Again, we're talking demographics here.

So that leaves him with a likely 244 electoral votes. 26 to go and 6 states. Those states are Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada. At this point, each of them could go either way but all he really needs is Pennsylvania (even John Kerry won that state) and just one more to put him over the top. So things are looking pretty good for the president at present.

Click here for my map: 2012 Presidential Election: Electoral Map:

The Sketch Heard 'Round The World

Eric Fehrnstrom, Senior Romney adviser, obviously had no idea the fury he was about to unleash when he made this comment.


In so many ways, this is Mitt Romney. As the likely nominee of the conservative party of this country, he's really not a conservative. He just plays one on TV. When the fall campaign starts, he's going to start to try to appeal to the independents of the electorate. But will he be able to do so after all the "Barack X" language that has been coming out of his mouth for the last several months?

As the recent Purple Poll shows, the president is doing very well with independents again so Mittens really has his work cut out for him. Having to spend the next two months moving farther and farther to the right will certainly not help. Check out his unfavorables on page 3. Wow!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting in Your Facebook

A lot of people complain about how much government is getting involved in our personal lives, how intrusive it has become, yada yada yada. But there's another force that's even more intrusive, who knows far more about you than the government and is in a position to use information that should be completely private against you.

Your employer.

Last month there was a big noise when the Obama administration announced its plans for contraception coverage. It took them two tries to get it right, but in the end most quasi-religious organizations will be able to opt out of covering contraception and have the insurance company do it instead. This still presents a problem with organizations that self-insure, but it points out the real issue.

Our employers has no business knowing anything about our personal lives. In particular, they have no right to know our medical history, unless we're claiming sick time or maternity leave, we've been injured on the job, or medical problems are affecting our job performance. Some jobs, like airline pilots and football players, obviously require closer scrutiny of the employee's medical condition. But with the vast majority of us, our medical histories should be between us and our doctors. Our employers have no business sticking their noses into our private business.

Yet employers more and more seem to think that they own us. For years employers have been pushing for invasive drug-testing beyond jobs like police, pilots, bus drivers, etc., and into office jobs where it really doesn't matter. They've been on employees' cases for quitting smoking, losing weight, getting more exercise, etc., mostly in service to cutting their health care costs.

Now some employers have begun forcing potential employees to give their Facebook passwords so they can peep into your private profile. This is a clear invasion of privacy, and it's also against the policies of Facebook and most every other online service: you're never supposed to give out your password.

What people say on Facebook doesn't necessarily represent the reality of their lives. And relying on Facebook for any kind of real information is an extremely dubious: if you've got something to hide you can just make a separate Facebook account that only your "in" friend know about. Even worse, anyone can make a Facebook account in your name and make it appear that it's yours.

One form of cyber-bullying involves creating fake Facebook identities for the victims, then making posts that get the victim into trouble, such as terroristic threats. This problem isn't particularly new, it's been woven into the plots of shows like CSI: New York for years now.

Everyone across the political spectrum claims to be for freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The real question is how to proceed when the rights and freedoms of different groups and individuals collide: for example, those of employers and employees.

Employers have the right to control what you do on their time and with their equipment: you shouldn't be wasting time shopping on Amazon, posting on Facebook or looking at porn on your work computer.

But as long as you show up for work on time and do your job adequately, your employer has no right to know whether you use contraception, drink two vodka Martinis every night, or what your Facebook password is.

Still More Facts

In many ways, I'm very happy the energy issue is out front and center right now in public debate because we are starting to see more articles like this.

More US drilling didn't drop gas price

A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump. Political rhetoric about the blame over gas prices and the power to change them — whether Republican claims now or Democrats' charges four years ago — is not supported by cold, hard figures.

Oh really? 36 years you say?

Seasonally adjusted U.S. oil production dropped steadily from February 1986 until three years ago. But starting in March 1986, inflation-adjusted gas prices fell below the $2-a-gallon mark and stayed there for most of the rest of the 1980s and 1990s. Production between 1986 and 1999 dropped by nearly one-third. If the drill-now theory were correct, prices should have soared. Instead they went down by nearly a dollar.



Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That's what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has increased 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58. It was a case of drilling more and paying much more. U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that's not what prices are now.

.But what about Keystone?

Supporters of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline say it would bring 25 million barrels of oil to the United States a month. That's the same increase in U.S. production that occurred between February and November last year. Monthly gas prices went up a dime a gallon in that time. 

Facts, folks. These are facts. Read the entire piece as it contains many more hard statistics.

And what is it again that affects prices?

That's because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.

Why is that so difficult for people to understand? Oh yes, that's right...Barack X and his army of killer robots that are destroying free enterprise in this country.

Of course, the ultimate irony here is that I'm beginning to think that supporters of increased domestic drilling are under the impression that the United States government would own the oil. They wouldn't, of course, because that would be socialism, right? So, the companies that would own the oil would be able to sell it on the free market.

Where do you think they would go and sell it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vote for me, I know nothing and hate the same things you do.

I finally got around to watching my TiVo'd copy of the HBO film, Game Change. Despite Sarah Palin's protestations, I found the film to be pretty much accurate and, not surprisingly, I'm still enormously frustrated that there are people out there still who think that she would be a competent president.

A recent piece by Richard Cohen over at RealClear Politics not only sums up the very core of Ms. Palin but also is extremely illustrative of what happens when the right gets caught in their willful ignorance.

The movie portrays Palin as an ignoramus. She did not know that Queen Elizabeth II does not run the British government, and she did not know that North and South Korea are different countries. She seemed not to have heard of the Federal Reserve. She called Joe Biden "O'Biden," and she thought America went to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein, not al-Qaeda, had attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Not only did she know little, but she was determinately incurious and supremely smug in her ignorance.

Being smug in their ignorance has now become a catechism. This is especially evident if anyone left of center confronts them with irrefutable facts.

At the same time, she was a liar. In the movie, she was called exactly that by McCain's campaign chief, Steve Schmidt, who came to realize -- a bit late in the game -- that one of Palin's great talents was to deny the truth. When confronted, she simply shuts down -- petulant, child-like -- and then sulks off.

Petulant and child-like..hmmm:)

Another thing about the film was the big reveal about the VP debate. I remember sitting in my family room and watching it with our very own last in line. After it was over, I turned to him and said, "Hey, she did a good job." Well, she did but, according to the film, it was all an act. She didn't have any idea what she was saying and simply memorized the lines. Great...

What's interesting about the rest of Cohen's piece is how he ties it to the 2012 election.

Apres Palin has come a deluge of dysfunctional presidential candidates. They do not lie with quite the conviction of Palin, but they are sometimes her match in ignorance...ignorance that has become more than bliss. It's now an attribute, an entire platform: Vote for me, I know nothing and hate the same things you do.

I think Sarah Palin was the spark that ended up given birth to the fictional character of Barack X. Many of his detractors (both public and private) simply can't accept the fact that he has been a good president and has done a good job. So, they ignore his accomplishments and create living pinata upon which they can unleash their hatred.

I guess I can take comfort in the fact that Sarah Palin will never be president and that the most ardent and extreme people like her really don't have as much power as the media makes them out to have.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Problem With Math (and fundamental principles of markets)

A recent discussion in comments has once again illustrated the problems with facts and math that tend to come up when the right are talking about their fictional character, Barack X.

Their latest line of fantasy is how the president is responsible for high gas prices and if he would just unshackle the energy industry, we could decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

One small problem with this narrative is (as always) reality.

(Source: Energy Information Administration) 

The other reality item to consider is the world market.

(Source: Energy Information Administration) 

We could drill everywhere the right wants us to drill and it wouldn't matter. We will still be shackled to the world market.

So, the next time that mouth foaming uncle who gets his facts from right wing blogs says that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, politely inform them that President Obama has been doing that.


Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney went to Puerto Rico last week to campaign for delegates. While there, both Romney and Santorum pandered.

Romney pandered to locals in the normal way: he said nice things about Puerto Rico, and pledged to help Puerto Rico become a state if the referendum for statehood passes this coming November.

Santorum went to Puerto Rico to pander not to the locals, but to the middle-aged angry white men in the Tea Party back on the mainland. Though Santorum has endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico without preconditions in the past, he no longer supports statehood for Puerto Rico unless they speak English. He said:
Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law. And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language.
There's no such law. In fact, Puerto Ricans already enjoy American citizenship. They have to pay most federal taxes—they're enrolled in Social Security and Medicare—but they don't have to pay federal income tax. Many American companies have subsidiaries in Puerto Rico, and since it's a U.S. territory and workers are American citizens, they are eligible for security clearances. High-tech military contractors like Honeywell are therefore sending high-paying jobs to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the lower salaries and cost of living.

There are two basic kinds of pander: saying nice pleasant things to endear oneself to your listeners (Mitt's), and saying mean and incendiary things to incite vitriol (Rick's). Santorum's defenders claim he's just telling it like it is, and Romney is mealy-mouthed. But because there's no English language requirement for statehood, Santorum is either woefully ignorant of the law and therefore not fit to be president, or he's willfully lying about it to get votes. Since Santorum previously supported Puerto-Rican statehood, he's obviously lying now.

But he's just playing out the new "Southern strategy" that many Tea Party and anti-immigrant groups adopted the last few years. It is this core group of Republicans that Santorum went to Puerto Rico to pander to, solidifying his position as the one true Anti-Romney. In contrast to Romney's placid acceptance of Puerto-Rican self-determination, Santorum is pledging to inflict pain and humiliation on Puerto Rico before letting them into the club.

As it turned out, Romney got more than 50% and therefore won all 20 delegates. (Santorum apparently got only 8%.) This was expected, as pretty much the entire Republican establishment, including the governor of Puerto Rico, had endorsed Romney. Santorum almost certainly knew this, and knew going to Puerto Rico could not possibly win him a single Puerto-Rican delegate. The entire exercise was therefore cynically executed to maximally manipulate anti-Latino sentiment among the Republican base.

The thing is, it's not clear whether Puerto Rico really wants to become a state. When they voted on this in 1998, "none of the above" beat out statehood 50.5 to 46.6%. It's also not clear that Republicans would allow it to happen: with all the anti-Latino vitriol they've spewed in the last several years, they're probably afraid it would mean adding two Democratic senators and three or four Democratic representatives.

But Puerto Rico's current status seems wrong: they're essentially in the same boat the American colonies were in before the Revolution. They're subjects of some big country across the sea, but they don't get to vote for president or Congress. In other words, they are suffering from taxation without representation. That should get them some sympathy from the Tea Party.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

He Said...What?

If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy. So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies.---Mitt Romney, February 21, 2012, in Shelby Township, Michigan 

Uh...yeah, that's actually correct. How did we miss that one?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oh, The Irony...

It's become quite obvious over the last several weeks that the mouth foaming that emanates from the right about the president's policies, as well as the federal government in general, is continuing to reach heretofore unseen depths of hypocrisy. A shining example of this is the states that continually vote Republican actually receive the most federal aid and tax dollars from the states that vote for Democrats.

But this one really takes the cake.

Plaintiff challenging healthcare law went bankrupt – with unpaid medical bills

Mary Brown, a 56-year-old Florida woman who owned a small auto repair shop but had no health insurance, became the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama's healthcare law because she was passionate about the issue. Brown "doesn't have insurance. She doesn't want to pay for it. And she doesn't want the government to tell her she has to have it," said Karen Harned, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business. Brown is a plaintiff in the federation's case, which the Supreme Court plans to hear later this month.

But court records reveal that Brown and her husband filed for bankruptcy last fall with $4,500 in unpaid medical bills. Those bills could change Brown from a symbol of proud independence into an example of exactly the problem the healthcare law was intended to address.

This would be funny if it weren't so tragic. The willful ignorance here is simply astounding.

The truly frustrating part is that we all still end up paying for her anyway, as Wendell Potter, former Vice President of corporate communications at CIGNA, recently noted...

Somebody has to pay for it. And guess who that is? It is all of us. Even Mary Brown. She and the rest of us cover that uncompensated care either through higher taxes to support the Medicare and Medicaid programs or through higher health insurance premiums. The care that presumably is "absorbed" by the hospitals is, in reality, being absorbed not by those facilities but by us. This is what the term "cost shifting" is all about. 

And this irrational way of paying for that so-called uncompensated care has us locked into a dysfunctional system in which costs for both the insured and the uninsured keep spiraling upward.

That's right, adolescent whiners, and that's why the PPACA is the best option at present. Scream all you want about it but simple and neat solutions to complex problems like health care don't fucking exist. Everything is not going to be perfect and we're just going to have to live with it...a truly hard thing to swallow for many people.

But, hey, at least those adolescents on the right will always have something to bitch about because it won't be perfect so that counts for something, hmm?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Not A Good Sign

Voter turnout thus far in the GOP primaries has been very low. In fact, it is lower than 2008 and that is not a good sign for the eventual nominee. A recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate details the numbers.

Overall, voter turnout so far is 11.5% of the 68.1 million citizens eligible to vote in the 13 states. That's a drop from a 13.2% voter turnout rate in the same states four years ago. 

And there really wasn't that much enthusiasm back then either. But what about the key battleground states? In Florida, 1.6 million people voted in 2012 compared to 1.9 million in the 2008 GOP primaries. In Nevada, the turnout in 2008 was 44,000. This year it was 32,000. That's nearly a 25 percent drop off. And in Colorado voter turnout was down about 7 percent this year in comparison to 2012.

Does this mean good things for the president?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


An apt description of some of my commenters...:)

Where It's At

Well, the GOP primaries are slogging merrily along and Rick Santorum simply will not go away. That's because, as much of the base and the country knows, Mitt Romney isn't really a conservative. He is just awkwardly playing one on TV.

Now, most of you know that I like Mitt Romney personally and wish that he would just come out and be the pragmatic dude that I know he can be. But there's this little thing called the Republican nomination that he has to get first. And, since the GOP keeps moving further and further right every day, he has to play make believe and pretend that Barack X is building an army of robots programmed to take away guns and bibles.

But he just doesn't look like he's into it...talking about cheezy grits and y'alls and, Rick Santorum just won three states in a row (Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi) and Mitt's inevitable nomination doesn't look so inevitable.

I think he's still going to win but I guess I'm wondering how far he is going to go in trying to get the nomination. What crazy crapola is going to come out of his mouth to prove to the base that he's a "severe conservative?"Likely it will be worse than his "the president is destroying free enterprise" comment but, hey, that's they ugly face of American populism that he has to placate.

Personally, I'd rather people go after Mitt on his foreign policy plans. What exactly are they? And how will they be more effective than President Obama's policies, nearly all of which have been successful?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No Shit

The Evolution of Princesses

It's springtime, and we all know what that means: the beginning of the blockbuster movie season. Last weekend Disney's John Carter opened, with many critics predicting its doom, pointing out that the viewing public has not been kind to movies about Mars. Speculation was rife that the movie—about a Civil War vet who goes to Mars—would bomb terribly. As it turns out, it wasn't a total dud; it did fairly well overseas so it may break even in the long haul. But prospects for a sequel—apparently the only criterion for success in movies—are bleak.

I liked the film. Over the years I've come to like historical dramas like Rome and The Tudors, alternative histories and retro-future Victorian steampunk settings. But I can see that for some John Carter might lack a certain pizzazz; it's more or less true to the understated tone of the Victorian era, and the characters don't have the same edgy sarcastic wit we've come to expect in summer blockbusters, even characters in the Victorian era like the Sherlock Holmes of Robert Downey Jr. The deserts of Mars feel more like Roman Egypt than Tatooine, especially with the casting of Rome's Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy.

John Carter is based on  Edgar Rice Burroughs' first Barsoom novel,  A Princess of Mars. 2012 is the hundredth anniversary of its publication in serialized form in The All-Story, with the title Under the Moons of Mars. It was republished as a novel in 1917. (It's available for free at Project Gutenberg in HTML and e-book formats.)

Burrough's novels paved the way for the Tarzan movies and Buck Rogers serials in the thirties, which were the templates for modern blockbusters like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Arc. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells preceded Burroughs, but their work was somewhat abstract, while Burroughs's pulp fiction was full of rip-roaring swashbuckling adventure. And naked ladies.

Though I've read science fiction for more than forty years, I hadn't read any Burroughs until two years ago. My tastes tended more toward "hard science fiction" and writers like Asimov, Benford, Clarke, Heinlein, Niven, Varley, Zelazny, and so on. In my younger days Burroughs' Victorian writing style didn't attract me, and the social attitudes on race and gender expressed in his work, typical of his era, turned me off. Though I'm sure many of his contemporaries found his ideas outrageously radical and far too sympathetic to "primitives."

Making a movie from a book entails a great deal of condensation and restructuring. A two-hour film simply doesn't have the time to delve into subplots, or develop characters to the same extent a novel can.  Many characters have to be axed, or their functions must be combined into a single character. Often the conventions of a novel don't translate well into film.

Thus, many aspects of Burroughs' novel were changed: the mode of Carter's translation to Mars was altered to suit modern technological sensibilities; a new major character was added (pulled from a subsequent book in the series); even the characters' attire was altered—if filmed as originally written, the movie would have drawn an NC-17 rating. Did I mention naked ladies?

But perhaps the biggest change of all was the character of Dejah Thoris. As described in the novel, "She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure." Symmetrical?

Burroughs' Dejah Thoris was the typical damsel in distress. When they first met, she was depicted as the haughty, condescending daughter of a nobleman, though somehow even this endeared her to Carter.

John Carter's Dejah Thoris is thoroughly modern, recast in the mold of Princess Leia. She's the Martian scientist on the verge of a technological breakthrough that would save her planet, only to be sabotaged by the villains. She's a top-notch sword fighter, wears more armor than Carter and could probably whoop him in a fair fight (his great Earthly strength is a major plot point). She's a scholar who can read ancient languages. When she's ultimately forced into cheesecake mode, she disdains it.

Even the underlying theme of the novel and the motivation for Carter and Dejah Thoris to meet—the deteriorating Martian biosphere—is discarded. Instead they are brought together when she flees a forced marriage to the villain who threatens to enslave all Mars.

In short, the changes with Dejah Thoris directly reflect the changed role of women in society a century after the novel was published. Today many top scientists, CEOs and politicians are women. Women serve in the military alongside men, and in workplaces everywhere else. Since 2000 women have outnumbered men in college 57-43%. Women still have not attained true equality, though the college numbers indicate that women will eventually to catch up.

Yet a hundred years after Under the Moons of Mars was published we still have politicians like Rick Santorum whose attitudes toward women seem to be even more antiquated than Edgar Rice Burroughs'. Santorum rails against birth control and abortion and women in the military; he seems intent on returning women to the chattel status that John Carter's Dejah Thoris fled. Women are not dainty, fragile princesses who must be coddled and simultaneously blamed for inciting men to lust.

Whether or not John Carter enjoys box office success, it's another clear reflection that in popular culture and among the young the issue of women's equality and their right to decide their own fate has been decided. And that's not just Hollywood propaganda. Women outnumber men in the voting age population, and they may well decide the election this fall.

It's just a matter of time until people like Santorum, Rush Limbaugh, the pope and the ayatollahs give up the ghost and give women their due.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So...this happened today...

Nasdaq Closes Above 3000

First time since December of 2000. But what about the Dow?

13177.68, which is a gain of 218 points-its highest level since May 2008.

Yeah, Obama's a socialist who's destroying free enterprise and creating an air of uncertainty, alright...somebody stop him...Quick!

Faces of Change: Emily's Health Care Story

And this would be how it works and why it is beneficial to our country...

A Bookend

A nice bookend to my post below is this recent article.

The report by six federal agencies was released Monday on the first anniversary of a speech by President Obama in which he pledged to reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports by one-third in about a decade. According to the study, the United States reduced net imports of crude oil last year by 10 percent, or 1 million barrels a day. The United States now imports 45 percent of its petroleum, down from 57 percent in 2008, and is on track to meet Obama's long-term goal, the administration maintains.

How have we accomplished this?

Imports have fallen, in part, because domestic oil and gas production has increased in recent years. U.S. crude oil production increased by an estimated 120,000 barrels a day last year from 2010, the report says. Current production, about 5.6 million barrels a day, is the highest since 2003.

So, most of the caterwauling about "Drill Baby Drill" is (as always) patently false. We already are.

And prices have gone up...gee, what a shock...

The Usual Suspects

I've pretty much had it with people blaming the president for high gas prices. First of all, he can't really control what happens in the Middle East, a major factor in the price hike. Second, drilling more oil here simply means that more oil will get sold to China and India, not us. US imports of oil have declined from 11 billion barrels a day  in 2009 to 8 billion barrels a day at the end of 2011. Simply put, we aren't using as much. Remember that we are a net fuel exporter now for the first time in decades and that simple fact still hasn't changed the price of a gallon of gas.

Add in the fact that the number of rigs in U.S. oil fields has more than quad­rupled in the past three years to 1,272, according to the Baker Hughes rig count. Including those in natural gas fields, the United States now has more rigs at work than the entire rest of the world and guess what? Prices are still high.


As Dennis Kelleher points out below, a big reason is the always....


That graphic says it all...In 2002, 89 percent of crude oil training was commercial with 11 percent non-commercial. Now crude oil trading is 63 percent non-commercial and 37 percent commercial. What was the price of a barrel of oil in 2002?




Obviously, there are other factors to consider but this is the one that isn't talked about much because these are the same fucking people that got us into trouble in the collapse of 2008.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Steve Jobs: Visionary, Imitator or Roadblock to Innovation?

Since Steve Jobs' death there have been many paeans to his genius, with many books and movies dedicated to his memory. There's no doubt that he accomplished a great deal, but his true genius wasn't so much as a technologist, but as a marketeer.

Not so long ago people laughed at the very idea of a tablet computer. Who would want one? It's too big compared to a cell phone, it doesn't have a keyboard so it's inferior to a laptop, it doesn't have enough processing horsepower to do "real" work, etc., etc.

But when Steve Jobs "invented" the iPad everything changed. Just the other week everyone was breathlessly awaiting the arrival of the third incarnation of the iPad. But did Steve Jobs and Apple really invent the tablet computer? Nope. Not even close.

It's an issue because Apple is suing other tablet manufacturers like Samsung for patent infringement. Apple is claiming that the Samsung device is a copy of the iPad, in part because it has round corners. Sorry, Apple, but you didn't invent round corners, or even the iPad's form-factor. Take a look at this video from Star Trek: The Next Generation's season 6 (circa 1992): Picard is holding what looks suspiciously like an iPad. The device is actually called a PADD (Personal Access Display Device). And Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey has another iPad precursor as well.

An article in the New York Times about Roger Fidler, a former Knight-Ridder think tank honcho, describes how Fidler designed an electronic newspaper in 1994. Fidler's group made a video in 1994 depicting how such a tablet computer would work. It pretty much looks like an iPad, only with a bigger screen and a stylus for input. Because Fidler's group worked for newspaper, they had no hardware or software development infrastructure so their ideas went nowhere. Except, it turns out, to Apple, who happened to be right next door.

Bill Gates had been pushing tablet computers for more than a decade, and everyone just laughed at him. We've seen those tablets running versions of Windows on futuristic TV shows like 24, though real people never seemed to own them. But in reality, ruggedized tablets with touch screens have been use in warehouses for many years to read RFID tags and maintain inventories. In the beginning everyone also laughed at Gates for pushing CDs as a computer storage medium.

The Amazon Kindle came out years before the iPad, and it had pretty decent success considering its limitations. It showed Jobs that the market was there for a table if it could be small and powerful enough: Jobs knew he could eat Jeff Bezos' lunch if he could make a general-purpose tablet that wasn't limited to reading e-books.

Apple has made a lot of cool stuff. But almost everything that makes the iPad possible was invented by someone else. Does Apple hold all the patents on Gorilla Glass? High-resolution LCD displays? Capacitive multi-touch screens? Low-power microelectronics? Flash memory? High-density batteries? Nope. Almost every piece of hardware in the iPad was invented by someone else.  And the software is a clear evolution of everything that has gone before. Apple takes other people's work, puts it in a nice clean package and has it assembled by FoxConn in China. In fact, most of the patents Apple holds are on design and software, patents that the US Patent and Trademark office would have flatly rejected thirty years ago. And many of Apple's patents are either based on prior art (such as Fidler's work), or are blatantly obvious and therefore not patentable.

The iPad isn't the first idea that Jobs borrowed from someone else. Touch screens were in use for general computing at the University of Illinois in the early 1970s. Apple didn't make the first personal computer; the Altair 8800 and IBM 5100 came years before. The graphical user interface and the mouse, made popular on the Macintosh, were invented by Xeroc PARC. The Macintosh's key innovation was to make the hardware as cheap as possible while charging a premium price. The iPod was not the first MP3 player; it was introduced in 2001, four or five years after the first portable digital music players came out. Apple has enjoyed great success with the iPhone, but didn't invent the cell phone, or the touch-screen cell phone, or even the smart phone. Apple's OS X is based on BSD and UNIX, an operating system developed by Bell Labs in the 1970s, because the original Mac OS was pitifully inadequate for real multitasking.

Jobs wasn't a font of new ideas. He was good at recognizing the potential of technology, synthesizing disparate elements and refining the technology, then convincing people it was fabulous and getting them to pay top dollar for it. Apple was also unafraid to throw out bad or outdated products and ideas. They've often dropped entire hardware and software product lines to suit their needs, switching processors and operating systems on Apple products at least four times (from the 6502 in the Apple ][, to the 68000 in the Lisa and Mac, to the PowerPC, and finally the Intel platform). Microsoft Windows has been running on the Intel platform since its inception, and can still run MSDOS programs written more than 25 years ago. That has left Windows with a lot of clunky legacy code.

With its patent lawsuits—and similar lawsuits by other patent trolls—Apple has been working to stifle innovation and prevent exactly the type of synthesis and refinement that Jobs practiced his entire life. In effect, Apple's rationale for suing Samsung over the Galaxy tablet amounts to "we stole the idea fair and square."

I would venture to say that Apple's primary product is not its hardware, but an air of preening, smug superiority, as evidenced by the John Hodgman/Justin Long Mac/PC ads and the "If you don't have an iPad, well, you don't have an iPad" ad campaign.

It is rather sad and ironic that the 2011 Jobs would have done everything in his power to crush the 1976 Jobs and prevent him from ever getting a start.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why Is Mississippi So Conservative?

I Feel The Same Way, Mr. President!


If you want people to respect your ideas, get better ideas.

Every so often, Kirk Cameron pops up from the "Where are they now?" category and makes derogatory comments about homosexuals. He did this again recently, calling homosexuality "unnatural and detrimental to civilization." With the RushSlut Flap in full swing, he got a little extra attention and, as most right wingers do, played the victim card in the EXACT same way in they bitch about and foam at the mouth.

I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square. 

Ironic that the "underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years" also includes the fear, anger, hate, and ignorance of a male dominated religious and moral system but let's set that aside for a moment and focus on the free speech side of his comment because I get the same rip about tolerance.John Scalzi sums it up quite well.

Well, Kirk Cameron, here’s the thing. You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan. But the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin. If you call someone “unnatural,” they might call you an “asshole.” That’s the deal.

To put it another way: The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect. As I am fond of saying, if you want people to respect your ideas, get better ideas. 


If you are going to run your mouth and be an intolerant d bag, then don't whine about a word sack of hammers busting you across the chops, bitch.

Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bill Defends Himself

I'll let Bill defend himself as he has been coming up in relation to the RushSlut Flap.

Not In Their Best Interests

A recent piece by Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of Nancy) doesn't really do much to relieve my somewhat permanent state of confusion as to why people in deep red states go against their best interest and vote Republican. In fact, she sort of makes me more perplexed.

Dominated by conservative politicians, Mississippi has the lowest tax burden in the nation but ranks fourth in per capita federal aid. Mississippi is also a leader of the GOP effort to gut Medicaid but ranks first in the percentage of its Medicaid program that is funded by federal matching funds. 

Seriously, WTF???

It gets worse.

In a state that wants to repeal "Obamacare," Mississippi leads the nation in a number of health care problems. It has the highest rate of heart disease and the second highest rate of diabetes in the country. Mississippi's cardiovascular disease mortality rate is the highest in the nation. Some counties in Mississippi rank among third world countries when it comes to life expectancy-they have the shortest life expectancies in the nation and many Mississippi residents suffer from a lack of health care access (some counties don't even have hospitals). It is ironic that the states suing to prevent the implementation of the Affordable Care Act are the ones whose residents need it most. Still, Republicans poll best in places where healthcare is worst.

And yet they are so stubborn as to refuse the solutions that would certainly help them.

Here's another bit of irony.

When it comes to education, adults in Mississippi have the highest rate of low literacy in the nation. On the National Assessment of Adult Literacy conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 30 percent of adults scored "Level 1" (less than fifth-grade reading and comprehension skills). In 2011, only 21 percent of Mississippi eighth graders scored proficient in reading and 19 percent scored at least proficient in math. 

So, the state whose policies are dominated by Republican politics has positively horrid statistics when it comes to education.  Could it be that there are reasons other than the communist takeover of our schools that are more significant?

Ms. Pelosi offers this video as an explanation as to why the state continues to vote Republican.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Energy Notes

An article published in today's Minneapolis paper illustrates the point I made yesterday about the Keystone XL pipeline:
As gasoline prices soar on the coasts, less expensive crude oil from Canada and North Dakota is easing the pain for Minnesotans. 
The average pump price in the state, running this week around $3.60 per gallon for regular, remains 75 cents behind California, where gas has been over $4 for weeks. It's the biggest price gap between the two states since 2009, according to data from AAA.
Once the pipeline is in, that Canadian oil will head to the Gulf of Mexico and from there to Asia. Which means that the people in the Midwest who have the pipeline running through their land—which will inevitably leak and foul their land and water—will get the "benefit" of paying higher gas prices.

In other energy news investigators in Ohio have determined that recent earthquakes there were in fact caused by injecting wastewater from fracking (hydraulic fracturing) into the ground. As the article notes, it's long been known that humans can cause earthquakes:
They point to recent earthquakes in the magnitude 3 and 4 range — not big enough to cause much damage, but big enough to be felt — in Arkansas, Texas, California, England, Germany and Switzerland. And in the 1960s, two Denver quakes in the 5.0 range were traced to deep injection of wastewater.
Which isn't to say that we should stop all fracking. We just need to do it better. In particular, wastewater injection should be banned. Instead, the water should be decontaminated and returned to the environment safely. Yes, that'll make the gas more expensive. But shouldn't the people who make a mess be required to clean it up? Drillers should not be allowed to pass the problem on to others in the form of earthquake damage and poisons in lakes, streams and water tables that cause death and disease in humans and animals alike.

Whither Uncertainty....

Remember all that talk last year of uncertainty and how the president's policies were muddying the economy?

Yeah, that's pretty much gone to the same place as all those folks who rushed out to buy guns and ammunition after the president won in 2008.

With the Dow at nearly 13,000 and 227, 000 jobs added in the month of February (marking the 17th straight month of job gains), the uncertainty narrative has now been shown to complete hogwash. Of course, this hasn't stopped the right from doing their darnedest to show how "awful" of a job the president is doing. According to Mitt Romney, he's "destroying free enterprise!" How is that possible with the Dow at more than one and a half times what it was when he took office?

A colleague of mine recently got back from a tour of Google and, while he couldn't exactly disclose the things he saw, he assured me that what they are doing out there is so ridiculously innovative that he actually swooned (yes, he is a giant tech geek). So, again, if Barack Obama is a socialist bent on destroying innovation, how is Google able to do what it's doing?

All of this raises an interesting question. What sort of tack will the eventual GOP nominee take without sounding like they are rooting against America?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Who's Really Pushing for Higher Gas Prices?

Republican candidates for president are making their quadrennial squawk about gas prices again. Their line is that President Obama wants high gas prices to "wean" us off oil. As the president asked in a press conference, does it really make sense for him to want prices to go up during an election? Or is it really the Republicans who are forcing gas prices higher by pushing for two more wars in the Middle East?

The fact is, domestic oil and gas production is the highest it's been in ten years. Obama has opened up more off-shore oil production, even after the disaster in the Gulf showed how bad it can be. The president was also on track to approve the Keystone XL pipeline after its route was corrected, but Republicans forced a showdown simply to make him look bad. Even after it's approved, it'll be years before any oil comes through, and most of that oil is heading straight for China. The Canadian company building Keystone XL wants an international market for its oil; it's not happy with the current state of affairs: it's stuck selling its crude to the Midwestern US for lower prices.

The price of gas goes up when there's low supply, high demand or uncertainty about oil producers. We've got a good supply and demand is moderate. Concern over supply is the main cause of high gas prices today.

Why are people concerned? The threat of war in the Middle East. Everyone's worried Iran is building the bomb. Iran has threatened to block the Straits of Hormuz. All the Republicans at AIPAC were egging Israel on to preemptively bomb Iran, and bragging about how many aircraft carriers they would send to the Persian Gulf. John McCain and other Republicans are demanding we immediately bomb Syria.

If anyone wants the price of gas to go up, it's Republican politicians and their backers in the oil business. They profit both ways: it makes Obama look bad, and it puts billions more dollars in their coffers. Every time gas prices hit a peak due to concerns in the Middle East, oil companies post record profits without having to pump a single barrel more. It makes you wonder if they donate money to Republicans specifically to have them beat the drums of war to drive up gas prices.

You'd think that Republicans would have learned their lessons from the war in Iraq and their dealings  with North Korea. A war with Iran would make Bush's disaster in Iraq look like a cakewalk. The more bellicose we are toward Iran the more urgently they feel they need that nuclear deterrent. And higher gas prices are the main fallout in the meantime.

By using foreign policy in the Middle East as a political football to unseat the president Republican candidates are harming the long- and short-term interests of the United States. And they show how utterly unqualified they are to run this country.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Super Tuesday Post Mortem

Well, Mittens hasn't sewn it all up after all, folks. As I predicted, the waters are even muddier.

The problem is the southern, deep red voter. They just don't like or trust Romney. First, he's a Mormon and I don't think they like that at all. Second, and most important, they don't think he's a "real" conservative. Honestly, I don't think he is either. He's saying the things that he imagines a conservative would say but he doesn't really believe them.

That's why Rick Santorum is hanging around. He believes the things he says which I suppose in some ways makes him more frightening. Isn't it interesting that he has been outspent a zillion to one and yet Romney still can't put him away? I guess having all the money in the world doesn't really mean anything.

Newt Gingrich's speech last night should be time capsuled and remembered for being a fine example when someone is wondering in the future about the psychological makeup of right wing bloggers and commenters (see: Titanic Hubris). Good Lord...

And why is Ron Paul still in the race? He hasn't won a state yet and his message isn't really resonating with voters.

The next few contests are going to be a drag for Romney. Kansas is this Saturday. Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri are all next week. If Santorum wins them all, what then?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

It Always Takes A Few Dead Bodies

I'm happy to report that Anoka-Hennepin schools have reversed their awful bullying policy and now allow homosexuality to be talked about openly by resolving the pending litigation and civil rights issues. I'm not at all happy that, as is usually the case, it took dead bodies to effect any sort of change.

I may be in a different district than Anoka-Hennepin but when I became a teacher, the well being of all children became my responsibility. Those kids, just like the ones I teach, were my kids. I will always feel that loss every single day for the rest of my life. Anyone who seeks to undermine the well being of a student anywhere near my back yard is going to get me up their fucking ass morning, noon, and night until they back off and keep their views to themselves.

How it took this long is a fine example of what happens when we allow bigots and ignorant homophobes to set policy. More often than not, they simply don't think and this is the kind of bullshit that happens. People who take that extra step into action (based on their ignorant bias) should be immediately held legally accountable for their actions. Honestly, they should be put in fucking prison for civil rights violations and not one of those country club jails...FEDERAL pound me in the ass prison.

It worked in the 60s and it would damn well work now.

Yeah, Baby!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Super Tuesday Predictions and Prognostications

Tomorrow, GOP voters will go to the polls in Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia in what has become known as Super Tuesday. The current delegate count stands at 173 for Romney, 74 for Santorum, 37 for Paul, and 33 for Gingrich. 1144 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.

From the simple standpoint of math, Super Tuesday won't get any of the candidate even halfway to 1144. But decisive victories in many key states would mean that the air of inevitability would certainly be around said candidate. There's only one problem with this possible outcome.

It ain't gonna happen. In fact, the clear as mud GOP nominating contest will reach a new level of brown after Tuesday night. In looking at the states listed above, one can easily see Santorum winning 2 or 3 of them like Tennessee, Oklahoma, and/or North Dakota. Gingrich is going to win Georgia. Ron Paul could win Alaska. Romney will win Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia. To me, it looks like everything is going to be split.

Ohio is the one to watch tomorrow night. Both Romney and Santorum are in a statistical tie there and the race could go either way. Yet even if Santorum wins the popular vote, he still may have to split delegates with Romney which will add to the mud.

So, regardless of the outcome, the primary season is going to drag on. And, with many Midwestern and Southern states like Kansas, Missouri, and Mississippi on the calendar, Super Tuesday victories for Romney won't mean much at all.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


Keep The Secret Agent Man Talking

Right after Nikto put up his post yesterday, Rush Limbaugh apologized to Sandra Fluke. Right on the heels of his apology, Hell called and informed us earthlings that it had frozen over.

It's very serendipitous that all of this has happened. I'd been thinking about Rush of late and was about to do a column about him and how it was just about time for him to say something that would get him noticed again. I would say that this certainly qualifies.

So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

My first thought after I heard this Rush Limbaugh a secret agent for Barack Obama? There's no doubt that his ratings are higher when there is a Democrat in charge. Make it a black guy with a funny, Muslim-y name and we're talking pure gold here. Hell, not gold but platinum or onyx!

But this was so far over the top and played right to pissing off a key demographic that I had to wonder (and still do even though he has apologized) if Rush is helping the president with his re-election campaign. I know the conventional wisdom is that we need to all stop listening to Rush and then he will go away but now I don't think that's the case.

This, of course, adds another layer of fault to my line of thinking after the president won in 2008 when I spoke of the end of people like Rush fading into the sunset. After this recent gift, why on the heck would I want that? What was I thinking? How foolish of me....:)

I say, we need to keep him talking because he has to keep saying more and more offensive shit to be relevant in this day and age. Honestly, he doesn't really have a choice. The more he talks, the more independents run back to the president. That's why, in the face of departing sponsors, it's a good thing he apologized so now the very likely possibility of him losing control of himself again between now and the election remains intact.

Although I am little worried. Now that he has admitted fault, the perceptual framework that these folks have set up for themselves dictates that he is now weak and a pussy. Please don't let it be true!!!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Rush to Judgment

On Wednesday Rush Limbaugh said:
What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.
What right does Rush have to judge this woman? What Sandra Fluke actually said is that women need to use contraceptives for more than one reason. In particular, Fluke has a friend who used the pill to control ovarian cysts, and not prevent pregnancy. The friend was denied coverage, couldn't afford the drugs. A cyst developed and grew to the size of tennis ball. It had to be surgically removed along with her ovary.

This whole argument over employers covering birth control is bogus. Practically speaking, since contraceptives are medicine, they need to be dispensed under the supervision of a doctor. Therefore they need to be part of health insurance, and it would be stupidly bureaucratic to require a separate policy to cover it. Aren't Republicans against stupid bureaucratic nonsense?

What's more, as I (and Jon Stewart) have pointed out before, the employer is paying for birth control whether it's through health insurance or the employee's salary. This is inconsistent, unless they're also arguing that they have the right to fire anyone who uses contraception. Is this moral objection to birth control really just the first domino in the conservative plot to allow employers to discriminate against people they don't like, be they contraceptive users, Muslims, Baptists, Mormons, atheists, blacks, Latinos and women?

It's particular ironic that Limbaugh is making a big deal out of this. In 2009 Limbaugh was stopped by customs when he returned from the Dominican Republic for having a bottle of Viagra that was made out in his doctor's name. (He should have used the alias "Rash Limp-bough".) This was after he was caught abusing prescription drugs, doctor-shopping and skirting banking laws by withdrawing cash from his banks just below the threshold that would require it to be reported. He then sent his housekeeper out with shoeboxes full of money to buy prescription drugs illegally to support the addiction that may have cost him his hearing, requiring him to have cochlear implants.

At the time of the Viagra bust Rush had been divorced from his third wife for five years and was seeing the woman who would become his fourth wife, Kathryn Rogers, who is 26 years younger than he is. They have no children, so, as Rush would, I'll just assume that she was using the pill to prevent pregnancy (I can't imagine someone like Limbaugh even considering a condom or diaphragm). I'll also assume her employer was paying for her health insurance, which in Limbaugh's fantasy world would mean she is a slut and a prostitute, her employer is a pimp and he is a john. As well as a fornicator.

Why isn't Rick Santorum holding up Rush Limbaugh as Exhibit A for all society's ills?

Sandra Fluke's motivation for speaking out appears to be outrage over the injustice that caused her friend to lose an ovary. Rush Limbaugh's motivation seems to be to slap down another slutty "feminazi" because she dared speak up instead of just lying there and taking it.

No wonder this man has gone through four wives.