Saturday, May 31, 2014

If The Jews, Then Why Not The Blacks?

Consider what sort of a reception a person might get if they were to proclaim that all that Holocaust stuff should be left in the past. Anti-Semitism? Pshaw! That's just a bunch of race baiting!! I think said person would be instantly taken down by just about everyone across the political spectrum.

So, why isn't this the case with the issue of race and African Americans in the United States? Any sort of claim of racism is heavily scrutinized and often vilified, especially by the right. Why?

Friday, May 30, 2014

We're Stupid!

Climate deniers have been dealt some very serious blows of late as they see their bizarre reality bubble contracting very quickly. So what should they do? Well, I guess this...

Republicans on climate science: Don't ask us 

"I'm not qualified..."

"I'm not a scientist..."

"We are not experts..."

Yeah, no shit, Sherlocks. Tell us something we don't know.

So, if this is the case, how can any of them claim that it's a hoax? More importantly, will this mean that right wing bloggers and commenters will also use ignorance as a defense? :)

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Oklahoma City gun range cafe given liquor license

Wilshire Gun Range, a 40,000-square-foot facility with 24 firearm lanes, 10 archery lanes and a full bar, will be able to serve drinks after The Oklahoma City Council approved the state's first ever liquor license to a gun range. 

What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Best Quote On Guns In Human History

From an answer on Quora...

There is little doubt that armed teachers could have possibly saved lives in the Newtown shooting. 

There is also little doubt in my mind that widespread arming of teachers would at some point result in an accidental shooting of a child, access to a firearm by a child, and a tragic deliberate shooting of an innocent adult due to a misunderstanding or overreaction.

The fundamental problem with most positions on firearm legislation is that they are myopic. The average gun advocate is a responsible, law abiding person with legitimate and justifiable arguments for people like them to possess firearms, and they are no danger to themselves or others. Yet they fail to understand that not everyone is like them. Not everyone can handle the responsibility of a firearm. When the law supports their right to bear arms, it also supports the rights of almost every other citizen to bear arms; many of whom are not responsible enough to do so safely.

As a former soldier I have been trained in the use of a number of firearms from pistols to machine guns. I teach my son and daughter to use an archery bow, and I impress upon them the gravity and responsibility of wielding a deadly weapon. I owned a hunting rifle and later a hunting shotgun, which were surrendered in the Australian buyback following the Port Arthur massacre. There are times, especially in the dead of night, when I wonder how I would defend my family against an armed intruder and I miss having that shotgun - after all, criminals still have access to guns in this country. But I understand that for me to have the right to own firearms for home defence, my neighbour and millions of my fellow citizens must also have that right. I know that most of those people have not had my training and do not have my respect for weapons, and on balance I feel safer with them not having them. And that's just the stable, law abiding ones. 

On balance, I feel that arming teachers would cause more harm, when viewed on a national scale, than good. Rather than a knee jerk reaction to militarise schools, I believe that the US would be better served by reviewing firearm laws to make the ownership of guns a revokable privilege rather than a universal right; by putting in place restrictions on automatic firearms and large capacity magazines; by verifying the character, mental state and training of gun purchasers; by licensing guns to owners and making unlicensed transfers a felony; by improving their mental health services and by ending the glorification of gun violence and perpetrators in the news media.

Well balanced...thoughtful...intelligent...and, most importantly, highly illustrative of the complexities of the gun issue.

Good Words

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Looking Tough

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic Candidate for Senate in Georgia, is leading both Jack Kingston and David Perdue in the polls with Kingston being the weaker of the two candidates. Recall that the race in Kentucky is very tight as well so the notion that this is going to be a Republican wave isn't really accurate. If the GOP picks up South Dakota and West Virginia (which they likely will) but loses Georgia and Kentucky, I don't think they can win back control of the Senate. They'd have to win 6 of the other 7 "tossup" seats in order to take the Senate.

And some of those tossups aren't really tossups with Iowa, Michigan and Colorado likely going to stay blue. Even with North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska going red, it still wouldn't be enough. No doubt, this is going to be a very tough election for both Democrats and Republicans.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Discarding Childish Garments

On this Memorial Day I happened to visit the Jefferson Memorial. One of the panels says:
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
In other word: it's a Constitution, not a strait jacket.

Nino and Clarence, take note.

Thanks, Pop

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Jesus and Hyperbole

I got an email recently with this link in it.

Jesus’ message is clear—it is impossible for anyone to be saved on his own merits. Since wealth was seen as proof of God’s approval, it was commonly taught by the rabbis that rich people were blessed by God and were, therefore, the most likely candidates for heaven. Jesus destroyed that notion, and along with it, the idea that anyone can earn eternal life. The disciples had the appropriate response to this startling statement. They were utterly amazed and asked, “Who then can be saved?” in the next verse. If the wealthy among them, which included the super-spiritual Pharisees and scribes, were unworthy of heaven, what hope was there for a poor man? 

Jesus’ answer is the basis of the gospel: "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God" (Matthew 19:26). Men are saved through God’s gifts of grace, mercy, and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nothing we do earns salvation for us. It is the poor in spirit who inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3), those who recognize their spiritual poverty and their utter inability to do anything to justify themselves to a holy God. The rich man so often is blind to his spiritual poverty because he is proud of his accomplishments and has contented himself with his wealth. He is as likely to humble himself before God as a camel is to crawl through the eye of a needle. 

Very well written.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Friday, May 23, 2014

What Would A Libertarian Do?

The recent 30 year natural gas deal between Russia and China has me wondering....what would a libertarian president do about this? Given their isolationist tendencies, they would likely do nothing and let the free market do what it will.

But is that effective in the age of globalization? And does it leave the United States more vulnerable from the standpoint of economic competition (i.e. the new "world war")?

The Tenor of 2014

In some ways, the GOP primaries this week in Georgia and Kentucky have crystallized the tenor of the fall elections. It might seem on the surface that the so called "establishment" candidates have won or, in the case of Georgia, are involved in a runoff. There have been more than a few articles proclaiming that the Tea Party lost.

Yet the platforms of these victorious candidates sound just like the Tea Party. Mitch McConnell is essentially running against Barack Obama (see: Obama Mental Meltdown Syndrome), not Alison Grimes, a mistake which I think will cost him the election. That and the fact that Ms. Grimes really good candidate.

If I were Senator McConnell, I'd spend less time obsessing about the president and more time talking his plans and how he will execute them. Does he really want the president to kick his ass a third time?

Down in Georgia, things just got a whole lot brighter for Michelle Nunn. Jack Kingston and David Perdue are now in a runoff so they get to spend the next nine weeks fighting each other while Ms. Nunn builds up her war chest. It's still going to be tough for her but again, both of these establishment candidates are sounding awfully Tea Partyish.

That suits me just fine. I think the GOP should go as far right as the want to go. It's just going to help out the Democrats this year and keep the Right out of the White House in 2016.

Long Weekends

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Moral Ominvores

The question of how similar animals are to humans comes up frequently. People on the right think that animals are just our property and we can do anything we like to them. Animal rights people put them on a pedestal, elevating them above people because they're somehow purer and nobler than we callow humans.

A writer to the New York Times recently said:
We’ve known since Darwin that other animals are more like humans than they are unlike us. They are made of flesh, blood and bone, just as we are, and physiologically, they feel pain in the same way and to the same degree.

More and more, we are also learning that they have the same range of emotions and needs, including the need to play, a fact accentuated by the research showing that some mice enjoy running on wheels (“Mice Run for Fun, Not Just Work, Research Shows,” news article, May 21).

As your article rightly notes, each animal is an individual, just as each human is an individual; some will enjoy the wheel, others won’t. As we grow in our understanding of other animals, it is only a matter of time before we stop using them in experiments, for food and for human amusement.
This video of a wild mouse running on a wheel, apparently for fun, is what the writer was talking about. Anyone who has a pet or has worked with animals closely knows that animals have emotions and a certain coarse intelligence.

I can agree with the writer up to a point. We're not that different from animals. But his conclusion is just plain wrong. Entire animal species use other animals for food: carnivores such as cats, canines, sharks, bears and so on cannot survive without killing and eating other animals. Cats "play" with their food; whether this is for entertainment or experimentation I cannot venture a guess.

Why should humans be held to a different standard than other animals when it comes to our own survival? Dogs clearly have the capacity to feel empathy for other creatures, yet they must kill in order to survive. We are no different.

If it is a moral imperative to stop killing animals for food, is it not incumbent upon us to prevent other animals from killing? Wouldn't that mean the end of all carnivore species? Clearly it would be immoral to exterminate all carnivores, but we would have to do so to prevent killing. So we must allow carnivores to act according to their nature. By that logic we must allow other humans who consider themselves carnivores to act according to their nature, within the limits of ethics and morality.

Humans do not need to eat other animals to survive; we could find other sources of protein. But we have evolved to be omnivores, and there is nothing inherently immoral about being an omnivore or carnivore.

However, killing and torturing animals solely for pleasure is clearly immoral. People who do this are psychopaths, and they frequently move on to humans. it is in our best interests to prevent sadistic killers from using animals as their training subjects.

Warehousing chickens, pigs and cattle in factory farms is tantamount to torture; these practices should be curtailed not just because they're immoral, but because they create breeding grounds for diseases that will infect humans (SARS and swine flu, for example), and are one of the main causes of antibiotic resistant bacteria that may soon bring an end to modern medicine.

It is in our best interests to make sure our food and dairy animals are fed, housed and butchered in clean and humane circumstances.

So, yes, we need to remember that animals are creatures that live and breathe and have feelings. But we are omnivores just like bears are, and as long as we treat our prey ethically and humanely, we have nothing to be ashamed of.

What Is The Voynich Manuscript?

For many years, the Voynich Manuscript has befuddled historians and linguists alike. Discovered in 1912, this book is a collection of writings and illustrations that has everyone guessing what it means. A recent story from BBC details the history of this fascinating work and just how difficult it has been to decode. A wide range of theories persist...everything from the secret of life to time traveling aliens from the future.

So what exactly is it?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Taxpayers Should Foot The Bill

I've been mildly surprised although not entirely shocked that conservatives have not really taken President Obama to the mat over just how FUBAR the VA Hospital situation has become. The president campaigned on making improvement to veteran's care and things have gotten worse. We had these same problems during the Bush Administration and it seems that nothing has been done to improve them.

Yet, if you think about it for a minute, it makes sense that the GOP are tepid in their criticism of the president. They know that if they go full on Benghazi or Obamacare mad, it will bite them in the ass. Why? Because the main reason why the VA is so screwed up is Iraq and they don't want to open up the can of worms when they can see the Senate in their sights. Afghanistan (our longest war) is also a big factor. I think conservatives are also having a difficult time in balancing the "everything for the troops" ideology with the "cut spending now!" meme so they aren't really making as much of a fuss.

But they should. These are our troops so let's keep our eye on the ball people. This is not about "failure of government" or adolescent glee (see: inferiority complex, insecurity, envy of success) at the president doing a bad job with this issue. It's about fixing the problem and making sure the troops are well cared for in our society. They volunteered to put their life on the line for us so they deserve the best care, indeed the best life, that money can buy. Both President Obama and President Bush have done a terrible job in handling Veteran's Affairs. This needs to change...yesterday. I don't want to see any more fucking stories about a veteran getting poor care, not being adequately treated for PTSD or other mental issues, or living in poverty.

Their quality of life should be much higher and taxpayers should foot the bill.

Meet Your Conservative Movement

By request, I am putting up this link again.


This is my personal favorite from that collection of fear, hate, and anger. Good thing racism is over!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Good Words

But that’s not the debate that’s taking place right now. The debate we’re having right now is about, what, Benghazi? Obamacare? And it becomes this endless loop. It’s not serious. It’s not speaking to the real concerns that people have. We’ve got one party in Congress right now that has been captured by ideologues whose core premise is ‘no’ — who fundamentally believe that the problem is government. 

The GOP’s main task is to figure out how can they make people sufficiently cynical, sufficiently angry, sufficiently suspicious that they can win the next election.

--President Barack Obama, May 19, 2014 

A Global Model For Equity

Conservatives in this country live inside of a bubble but we, as Americans, live inside one as well. I lived in Europe for a year and it honestly help me break out of the United States bubble. We have far too many notions in this country (way too many dictated by the Right) that simply aren't true. For example, democratic socialism is viewed largely with disdain. Certainly, I have my problems with it but it's not communism/Marxism/boiling pit of sewage as we are nauseatingly warned day after day by the right wing bubble.

This myth is more or less destroyed by this recent piece in the Christian Science Monitor. Let's start off with this graphic.

What kind of a life does this mean for Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden?

They get comprehensive pensions, unemployment insurance, and universal health care. Losing a job, while professionally defeating, doesn’t turn into financial demise. Nor does a long-term illness. The welfare state means free university education and heavily subsidized all-day preschools. Public spending on day care and early education in the Nordic countries averages 1.4 percent of gross domestic product; it is less than 0.4 percent in the US, for example. The result is a robust middle class. All five Nordic nations rank in the top 10 most equal countries globally, according to the OECD. (The US, by comparison, sits at 31, just above Turkey and Mexico.) 

How does this happen? 

The earned income tax burden for a family of four with a single wage earner in Sweden is close to 38 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), compared with the United States at 20.3 percent (and 38 percent in Finland, 31 percent in Norway, and 28 percent in Denmark). 

So, higher taxes and everyone benefits. But does this mean that the wealthy are soaked?

There are, of course, variations in incomes in Sweden, and there is the opportunity to become wealthy – for example, Stefan Persson, chairman of H&M, is listed by Forbes as the 16th richest person in the world. A doctor might earn twice as much as a teacher and pay more taxes, but is ultimately wealthier than the teacher.

Nope. Are corporations flourishing?

All the creative output flourishing here tests assumptions about the ability of capitalism to thrive under big government. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, with a collective 26 million inhabitants, don’t just produce successful companies. They have a creative capacity that transcends language and cultural barriers to fascinate, humor, and entertain global markets. Think Ylvis, the Norwegian comedy duo and their viral YouTube hit “What Does the Fox Say?” Or “Nordic Noir” crime fiction like Denmark’s TV series “The Killing,” and the Swedish Stieg Larsson book and movie franchise that started with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Or Icelandic singer-songwriter Bj√∂rk. 

And these countries have pioneered public policies, the effects of which – if not the tax burden – are the envy of the common man worldwide: from universal preschool and paternity leave to vocational training schools and voucher programs for private schools. 


In looking at this article, I have to wonder what all hysteria is about in this country when we talk about "big" government. Why can't this work here? The answers to this question seem to be rooted in fear of the unknown and that timeless fault of purely selfish greed. There is a prevailing sense in this country that's what mine is mine and fuck you if you try to take the fruits of my hard earned labors. Setting aside the idea that they are even hard earned in the first place, what kind of a country do these people want to live in? One with gated communities where the most successful businesses are either dollar stores or luxury good suppliers? Or one as described in this piece?

The first step we need to take is to torpedo the idea that governmental structures that we see in Nordic countries could never work here. Why? It pisses me off that we're getting our ass kicked in the quality of life department by the likes of Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. We can do much, much better.  Of course, getting past this step requires that we stop listening to the right and deprogram the willful ignorants inside of the cult bubble.

This is the raison d'etre of this site. 

So How Can We Tell Those Good Guys With Guns From The Bad Guys With Guns Again?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Impeach Barack Obama

I put up a clip from last week's Real Time below but the final new rule is really the best part of that show. The GOP talks a good game about Benghazi but they don't have the sack to impeach the president. That tells me that the hearings that are starting today serve no other purpose aside from this.

Why Were Conservatives Okay With Government Up Until Five Years Ago?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Atari Game Dump

The BBC recently reported on an Atari game dump long since rumored to be a myth. The 14 year old me would be so happy. Free games!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Where Is The Conservative Outrage Over This?

Minimum Wage=$25 An Hour?

Is Switzerland poised to have a minimum wage of $25  an hour? It will be interesting to find out. If they do, we could finally see exactly how much of an effect raising the minimum wage would have on unemployment and inflation. Could the effect turn out to be negligible because wage increases lead to a rise in aggregate demand that exceeds layoffs? Thus negating any layoffs and/or inflation?

Regardless, the article notes how much of an effect discussions of raising the minimum wage are having.

Supporters have something to show whether it passes or not: Some large companies such as clothing retailer H&M and supermarket chain Lidl have already agreed to raise their wages to the proposed minimum.

The same thing is happening here and will likely increase as the wealthy of the United States are realizing just how much of a destabilizing effect inequality has on our country.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good Words

Bill Maher on Benghazi and impeachment... 

It is a phony thing. It's been a phony thing from the beginning. I mean, it's a tragedy but not everything bad that happens in the world is Obama's fault. Of course, that is always their template for everything is to work backwards from everything Obama's evil, Obama's a socialist, Obama's a screw-up. Somehow he is simultaneously an evil genius and also completely incompetent and just terrible dumb. So, it depends on what day it is. It's funny. 

At the end of our show this week, our little editorial is about we're egging Republicans on to impeach him, because I think that would be very good for Obama, if they would go ahead and impeach him. And I would like to challenge the Republicans. If Benghazi is as awful as they say it is then isn't it your obligation to impeach him? And that would be great, because that would fire up the left wing base. So I'd like to see the impeachment go forward. I’d like to see them put their money where their mouth is.

Donate Now!

The Size of the Wave

Larry Sabato has an interesting piece up about the 2014 Election. Checkout his two graphics.

I largely agree with his metric. I'd say that South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana are pretty much out of reach. He makes an interesting case for West Virginia and Montana staying blue but we have to be realistic.

I rank Mary Landrieu as being more in danger than Pryor. The latest polls show Pryor up fairly high and I think he is going to hold on. Tom Cotton is a flawed candidate and people really love Pryor. I think Begich will hold on as well. Hagan is a giant ? in North Carolina.

So, my early prognostication after delving in to Sabato's work and adding in my analysis is that the Republicans will pick up South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Louisiana, and probably North Carolina. Yet they will lose Kentucky, leaving the Senate at 51-49. Take this prediction with a boulder of salt and realize that it's just an exercise in folly at this point, done purely for the fun of me being political nerd.

Of course, the teacher nerd in me would love it if the Senate ended up tied 50-50. Think of the civics lessons it would produce!! Cue Joe Biden...:)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grist For Its Fantasy Mill

Richard Cohen has most brilliantly summed up the confusion over why Republicans simply can't let go of Benghazi.

I feel about the GOP as I do about the religion of others: I don't get it. I know feelings can be strong and reason plays little part in it -- faith is faith, after all -- and this is the way I see the GOP snits about the IRS and, more pertinently, Benghazi. What are these people talking about? 

Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya -- two from mortar fire, and Stevens and another man from smoke inhalation. These deaths are a serious matter for which bureaucratic blame has already been assessed. No one can possibly think the Obama administration knew the attack was coming and let it happen. There is no proof of that. Similarly, no one can still think the White House put the brakes on a rescue attempt by the U.S. military. Again, there is no proof of that. 

So what is Benghazi? Beats me, I am tempted to say. But I recognize it as a transparent Republican attempt to provide the party's base with grist for its fantasy mill. 

Fantasy mill, indeed. Man, they really do love this stuff, don't they?

Is it possible the Obama administration fudged the nature of the attack, refusing to apply the term "terrorist"? Yes, of course. Did the White House spinmeisters put their hands all over it? Could be. But is any of this so momentous that it has required 13 public hearings and now a select House committee that will delve and delve feverishly ... for what? 

I am not sure if this rancorous partisanship is something new in American history or just the same old, same old. But I know that what I am seeing looks both petty and mean. House Speaker John Boehner talks about Benghazi with synthetic solemnity. Fox News dissects it, parsing White House talking points with the ferocious intensity of a hunting dog pointing at some prey. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. It will show ... It will prove ... It will expose ... What? What the hell are you talking about?

Indeed, what?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't Even Bother With 2016

Check out this remark from US Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue.

He's right. The GOP shouldn't even bother putting up a candidate in 2016 if they don't pass immigration reform. So why aren't they doing it now? Wouldn't it help cement their chances in 2014? Of course the reason is that old, angry white people in the GOP primaries don't like wetbacks so no reform until after 2014. This speaks to a larger issue.

Right now, our elderly population is enormous given the glut of baby boomers. Most of these folks are Reagan seniors and tend to vote Republican. They are mostly white and tend to be reliable voters. They look at how the United States is changing and becoming less white as those that are younger than them grow in numbers. So, it's a whole bunch of old whites versus a growing number of non whites. No wonder they are so afraid.

This is a big reason why we have all the problems we have with no solutions. It's not necessarily a left-right thing. It's a baby boomer thing. All of their problems with race, economics, politics, science and society negatively color the day and prohibit real solutions. To be quite frank, as their numbers dwindle over the next 20 years, many of these issues won't be issues anymore and I think we are going to be cut loose from their bullshit shackles and be able to truly progress as a nation.

The Children's Parade

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Latest On Cliven Bundy

We haven't heard much from the Cliven Bundy standoff of late so I thought I would point out a few recent headlines. First we have this:

Cliven Bundy standoff: Locals want armed militia out, lawmaker says

I don't blame them. Amusing that people from out of state (what happened to state's rights?) are there to support Bundy.

We also have this:

One month later, Cliven Bundy, militia, residents face an uneasy coexistence

Here's an idea, federal government. Go and arrest Clive Bundy. He broke the law and has the bizarre idea (seemingly rooted in communism) that the land he grazes his cattle on is everyone's land. If anyone shoots at you, shoot back because that's what known as an armed insurrection. Honestly, I don't think they will because at their very heart, they are a bunch of fucking cowards who like to play guns.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rand Paul Goes Rogue (Again)

In case you are keeping score, Rand Paul has said that Texas will turn blue, the GOP needs to undergo a significant transformation, there must be immigration reform, and there is institutional racism. This week, he said

Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing, I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.

No shit. And it's about time someone had the courage to be this blunt with the Republicans because they really are being assholes about it. Paul is sounding exactly like a candidate running for a national election in 2016 and someone who is well aware that the Republicans can't win unless they broaden their base.

That doesn't mean we give up on what we believe in, but it means we have to be a more welcoming party. We have to welcome people of all races. We need to welcome people of all classes – business class, working class … We need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America.

That's right. The question is...will they change?

The Navy Comes Through

Our government does more good things than people want to give them credit for which gets pretty frustrating for me. Here's a great example:

US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.


Consider that this same technology will be put out to the private sector at some point as well. That would completely change the face of energy on the planet. Countries like our own have access to abundant seawater which means we would be a powerhouse. Juxtapose that with out ability to innovate and that second American century is looking crystal clear.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Mitt Romney: "Raise the Minimum Wage."

I, for instance, as you know, part company with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it, because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay, and I think communicating that is important to us

--Mitt Romney, May 9, 2012


Fundraising Off Of Benghazi

Republicans say they want to get to the bottom of what really happened after the Benghazi attack on September 12, 2012 but what they really want to do is fundraise off the tragedy. Check out this line from the NRSC, for example.

Americans deserve the truth about Benghazi and it's clear Democrats will not give it to them. Donate today and elect a Republican Senate majority.

The NRCC is doing it as well.

So, let's see...the lives of the four Americans killed matter as much as the next campaign donation. Got it. Given that Republicans are behind the Democrats in fundraising, it's now quite clear what this latest in a serious of hearings about Benghazi is really all about.  

And I'm still trying to figure out what law was broken by the Obama administration.

Advocating Armed Insurrection

Take a look at the latest ad from Iowa GOP Senatorial hopeful, Joni Ernst.

Wow, these folks really want to rise up and shoot the president! (see: armed insurrection advocacy).

The Continuing Saga of Adolescents

Check out Sean Davis's piece on the recent National Climate Assessment. A fine and illustrative example of adolescent behavior in many, many ways. Why are there people that actually take these people seriously?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Future Is Now

Climate change has always seemed like seem distant science fictional disaster that will happen in the distant future. Well, the future is now. It is 2014, after all.

The National Climate Assessment released Tuesday reports that climate change is already affecting the United States, as well as the rest of the world. It is being manifested not only by rising temperatures across most, though not all, the country (sixty degrees in Alaska in January), but also by increasingly heavy rains (in Florida), deadlier tornadoes that occur earlier in the season, heavier snowfalls (like last winter's, due in part to more water vapor in the atmosphere from reduced arctic ice), flooding in many parts of the country, rising sea levels (hitting Florida again), severe drought in California, the West and parts of Texas, and so on.

Some Minnesota counties have even been declared both flood and drought disaster areas in the same year: last year we got hammered by torrential downpours in the spring, but then it didn't rain for the rest of the summer.

Climate change doesn't just affect the weather: stronger storms are destroying billions of dollars of property and killing more people every year, and higher temperatures are causing more sickness and death due to heatstroke, insect-borne diseases, and asthma.

The response to these events from the right is typical: first they deny that it's happening, then they claim these events are part of the natural cycle, then they claim that humans have nothing to do with it, then they say that increased temperatures and carbon dioxide levels will be somehow "good" for us, then they say it would be too costly to act. Then they say that we'll just adapt if it happens. Well, it's happening. Now.

The Heartland Institute is typical, claiming that higher CO2 levels from burning coal and oil make plants grow faster. This is true by itself, however higher temperatures will decrease crop yields, as well as evaporate water from the soil faster, causing more drought and decreasing yields far more than higher CO2 levels will increase them. The final nail in the coffin is that crops grown in high CO2 levels are less nutritious.

All of these problems are due to our burning fossil fuels faster than the earth's systems can reabsorb the CO2 produced. Yet only 40% of Americans believe that climate change is a serious threat. That low number is due mostly to conservatives, who doubt it for solely economic reasons. Even though dealing with climate change now will save us trillions of dollars even in the short to medium term.

Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would also reduce the real-world power of bad actors like Putin in Russia, the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia, the ayatollahs in Iran, the nut-jobs in Venezuela, and the Koch brothers in the US, who are trying to buy every election in the country (even going after a zoo in Ohio).

Stanford's decision to divest its endowment from coal companies is a good first step. Coal is the worst source of energy, dirty and deadly at every phase (just ask China, with its mining disasters and pollution problems). We should be phasing out every coal-fired power plant on earth.

Higher CO2 levels are raising sea levels, increasing temperatures and flooding, and causing more powerful storms. Our quest for more oil and gas is even causing earthquakes. Yet many conservatives call climate change a "hoax," at the same time blithely blaming natural disasters on gay pride parades and abortion.

The writing is on the wall: climate change is real, and is happening right now. Luckily, we currently have the money and resources to make the transition away from fossil fuels. But if we wait until the effects of climate change get really bad, we'll be too busy digging out from the latest flood, hurricane, tornado or mudslide, or fighting wars caused by drought, famine and resource shortages.

Yes, we can adapt to future climate change. The future is now. So now is the time to do something about it.

How Obama Undermines the 2nd Amendment

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

CEOs and the Minimum Wage

Just who is Anti-Keystone?

The Wall Street Journal has a piece up about the opposition to the Keystone pipeline and how it really isn't as left-right as you would think. Politico echoed this as well.

Ranchers and native tribes that oppose the pipeline formed the Cowboys and Indians Alliance, putting a non-traditional face on the anti-Keystone movement that has spanned the president’s time in office. Their goal — like that of their environmentalist counterparts — is to persuade Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to determine that the pipeline from Canada would go against the national interest.

The ranchers — or “cowboys” — are concerned not just about protecting sensitive aquifers near the pipeline, but also about their land rights, several said at the protest. “I’m here to support the neighbors to the north that don’t want the pipeline across their land,” said Julia Trigg Crawford, a Texas rancher who rode in on horseback. She didn’t have so much luck with her own land. 

Part of the Oklahoma-to-Texas southern leg of Keystone XL, which has already been built, runs through Crawford’s ranch land on the Red River. “Basically they came in and said a foreign corporation building a for-profit pipeline had more of a right to my land than I did,” Crawford said. The land can be used for grazing, but she can’t build a house or drive across it, she said. Crawford received a check for $10,395 two years ago but has never cashed it, she said.

For some conservatives, it's about property rights and federal government intrusion which I find interesting because they do have an argument. I wonder why so many conservatives who champion private property and rights love the Pipeline as much as they do.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The Challenge of the 2014 Elections

Take a look at this graphic.

It's from a brilliant analysis of exactly what the Democrats need to do in order to win the 2014 elections. Sasha Issenberg illustrates the numbers and demographics behind presidential year elections and mid term elections, boiling it down to a simple question: Can the Democrats mobilize the "unreliable" voters to succeed in the 2014 election? If they can, they hold the Senate and part of me is thinking that all the hysteria right now over SHELLACKING PART TWO is simply a fear tactic to mobilize the troops.

Another interesting part of the article is this.

Add it all up, and the Democrats’ midterm conundrum comes to look like an actuarial one. “If twenty years ago, you said the midterm electorate is older, I would have said, ‘Yahoo! Glad to hear it,’ ” says Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. “But now the Roosevelt seniors are dead and the Reagan seniors are voting.” Increasingly, those older voters are backing the same side: In 2000, Al Gore won the youngest and eldest bands of the electorate by slight margins; in 2012, the over-50 vote broke for Mitt Romney by 12 points. 

There are also simply more of those older voters overall. Since Obama’s first appearance on a presidential ballot, the population of Americans over the age of 55 has increased by nearly 13 million. By 2022, it will have increased by another nine million. People tend to grow more conservative as they age, but as a cohort, Generation X—whose oldest members will soon reach their fifties—is appreciably more conservative than the Millennials who follow them. “When the Millennials are fifty-five, they’re going to vote more Democratic,” Lake says, not exactly cautioning patience. “That’s thirty years away.”

This ties in to what I have been saying about how much the electorate is going to change over the next 20-30 years. Imagine what will happen when we have "Obama seniors" and the Reagan seniors are gone.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

The Columbine Effect

My home state is reeling this week over the revelations that John David LaDue was planning a Columbine-like school attack. LaDue is yet another teenage male with mental health issues that turned to plans of violence. Today's Strib had this as the front page story. 

'Columbine effect': Alarm is rising over copycats

It's a very disturbing yet accurate piece over a phenomenon that has evolved in culture since the Columbine shooting. The piece echoes many of the things I have written about on here about young men in culture. As more is revealed about LaDue, I'm sure we will see that he had most if not all of what I have been calling the magic cocktail (mental health issues, feelings of persecution and lack of attention, taking SSRIs, easy access to weapons, played violent video games, poor parental involvement, lack of community support and/or involvement).

What is very clear from this piece is that the Columbine Effect is part of our culture now and it won't be going away anytime soon. So, what should do about it? The piece has some very general suggestions but this has become a very complex problem. It's no longer as simple as "gun problem" or a "mental health problem." It's an American Culture problem that has to be addressed in a very complex way because it evolved in a complex way.

In many ways, it's become like a puzzle with some easy answers and some difficult ones which contain solutions that will be a big lift. Getting people to stop being lazy and engage young men takes a lot of energy. I know I sound cynical but I don't think most Americans have it in them. I base this on my own experience with parents so I do admit to bias. Changing our antiquated gun laws would help but, honestly, that's a small piece of the puzzle.

This has to be a cultural shift and it will obviously take a lot of time. So, where do we start?

Saturday, May 03, 2014

More Tampering With The Free Market By The Gun Cult

Man, the Gun Cult really doesn't like the free market...

Threats against Maryland gun dealer raise doubts about future of smart guns

The latest skirmish over the nation’s first smart gun, marked this week by death threats against a Maryland gun dealer who wanted to sell the weapon, has raised doubts about its future and prompted some gun-control advocates to back away from legislative efforts to mandate the technology. Engage Armament, a Rockville gun shop, endured an outpouring of vitriol from gun rights activists who fear the technology will be used to curtail their Second Amendment rights by limiting the kinds of guns they can buy in the future.

What kind of vitriol?

Somebody told one of Raymond’s workers that the store, Engage Armament, wouldn’t be selling the gun because there wouldn’t be a store — it will burn down. At another point, Raymond picked up the phone and said, “Hi, this is Andy. How can I help you?” The caller said, “You’re the guys selling the smart gun?” Raymond tried to reason with him. But the caller said, “You’re gonna get what’s coming to you (expletive).”

Cool. I guess he had to sleep in his store because he worried his private property would be damaged.

What a mentally balanced group of people...

Undocumented Workers Used To Be OK

Friday, May 02, 2014

Good Words (I ♥ Quora Edition)

From one of my Quora questions...

I can't speak to the conservative pundits who I don't listen to or follow, but I can say a few things about conservative forums I've trolled. The typical commenter has a very different POV, informed by an entirely different set of 'facts'. If I can make some gross generalizations about their worldview: 

  • the world they live in is a scary, scary place filled with monsters they are constantly being beseiged by: the federal government, lazy brown people who commit crimes and appropriate their hard earned tax dollars, liberal bureaucracy, liberal media trying to brainwash them 
  • the world is full of sinister conspiracies--malevolent, omniscient forces are always at work in the world and target them specifically 
  • they are amongst a band of surviving 'real Americans' that still uphold 'traditional values' in contrast to the sinful, frivolous, un-American populace 
  • news and events are local--they have little interest in international affairs or global perspectives on American issues 
  • America is the best, the greatest, and is exceptional in every way--that specialness is constantly being threatened from within by liberal elements who are sabotaging this ideal and trying to make the country more like the rest 
  • you must agree entirely with all of the stated beliefs of their conservative agenda, or you are a dangerous, free-thinking liberal--it's very binary 
  • if you are hold progressive positions, or don't identify with reactionary paranoid extremism, you are immediately presumed to be lazy, non-taxpaying, of dubious virtue and poorly educated.

Well, that pretty much sums up Kevin Baker, every single one of his commenters, and the right wing blogsphere! I wonder if they will ever realize this is exactly how they are and change...

I have to admit as well that I appreciate the wider audience.

Friday Funny

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The NRA Conference=Incredibly Disturbing

As Jon Stewart notes below, this year's NRA conference was incredibly disturbing.

We've officially moved beyond the stomp down the hallway and into advocacy of armed insurrection.

But, hey, if you want to feel lighthearted about it, play a drinking game in which each time appeal to fear is used in a speech, you have to drink.

You'll be drunk in less than five minutes.

Cancelling The Cancelled Plan Meme

Here's an interesting study on how the whole cancelled plan meme isn't quite the boiling pit of sewage they made it out to be. Here are its main findings.

First, this market was characterized by high turnover: Only 42 percent of people with nongroup coverage at the outset of the study period retained that coverage after twelve months. Second, 80 percent of people experiencing coverage changes acquired other insurance within a year, most commonly from an employer. Third, turnover varied across groups, with stable coverage more common for whites and self-employed people than for other groups. Turnover was particularly high among adults ages 19–35, with only 21 percent of young adults retaining continuous nongroup coverage for two years. Given estimates from 2012 that 10.8 million people were covered in this market, these results suggest that 6.2 million people leave nongroup coverage annually.

What does it mean?

This suggests that the nongroup market was characterized by frequent disruptions in coverage before the ACA and that the effects of the recent cancellations are not necessarily out of the norm. These results can serve as a useful pre-ACA baseline with which to evaluate the law’s long-term impact on the stability of nongroup coverage. 

The president should still be criticized for making it sound like the ACA would fix all of this but the fact is that without the ACA, if you liked your insurance, you wouldn't have gotten to keep it anyway.