December 2014

“We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.” Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Isn’t being worth $84 billion enough? Is it really necessary for the Koch brothers to pay millions to destroy social security and the whole safety net? Having these facets of a civilized society didn’t stop them from increasing both their personal fortunes and the profits of Koch Enterprises.

The President’s actions on Cuba have divided Cuban-Americans. The old-timers cling to the notion that, given time, the embargo on Cuba will work – that 54 years isn’t long enough. The young, who don’t feel the emotional sting of the communist revolution, don’t see the point of it. The anti-Castros crowd is incensed that Obama gave away the store with no commitments to a freer society. Opposing voices think that the victims of the embargo are the people anyway. And they can only benefit from the new arrangement.

A leading promoter of the old ways is Marco Rubio. This son of Cuban immigrants who, although himself relatively young, has cast his lot with the old-timers. Not that his parents were directly affected by Fidel’s actions. They, despite intimations by Rubio of sufferings at the hands of the revolutionaries, had left Cuba some three years prior.

In what was the final act of this Congress, the Senate passed a measure commemorating the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. There is some symbolism there, but I’m not sure what.

Talking about extinction. If an intelligent designer created the animals 6,000 years ago, in their present form, why have so many species gone extinct? If he designed it so well in the first place, why doesn’t every species still exist?

The NYPD has pointed out that some protesting the NYPD’s killing of an unarmed man are violent – and that violence against police officers is intolerable. I agree. Violence against anybody, who doesn’t deserve it, is intolerable. That includes the murder of unarmed men.

One effect of the decline in oil prices is the reduced urgency to pursue alternate and renewable energy. Oil is subject to the laws of supply and demand. But as JFK said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”. Energy prices will go back up. Think of it as a reverse bust. Halcyon days of low prices will give way to a new panic, and we’ll be back to $4 gas with no progress made on broadening the energy base. Tesla has already cut its sales’ projection by 40%.

McDonaldsMcDonalds franchisees have been behaving badly – punishing workers who took part in minimum-wage protests. Now the Labor Relations Board has ruled that MacDonald’s itself is a co-employer and is, therefore, as liable as any franchisee. Business groups immediately protested that this would cause the cheap food business model to be rethought – inevitably costing 1,000s of jobs.
Notice these pro-business folk contend that a measure good for employees is, in fact, bad for employees. Reading between the lines they think, incorrectly, it will be bad for profits.
They further argue that the board’s ruling is outrageously ‘pro-union’. Well, thank God for that. With all the depredations inflicted on workers – think Orwellian named ‘right to work’ laws – it is good they get one victory.

China is not a gay-friendly country. Nevertheless, a Chinese court ruled ‘reparation therapy’ was science-free cruelty. And ordered it compensate a gay man that had been ‘treated’ there.

The US is out of the car business. The bailouts are over. And with that, the TARP program comes to an end. How much did it end up costing the taxpayers? Nothing – it made a profit of $15.35 billion. And that doesn’t account for all the taxes paid by people whose jobs were saved and the unemployment benefits that weren’t paid out.
The down-side is that the banks aren’t any smaller. And the rules enacted in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act are being chipped away. The next time we have a financial crash – and with the GOP around that’s guaranteed – we must make a condition of the bail-out that financial institutions have to be broken up.

 

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In the Contest Between the “Jock” and the “Nerd”, Bet on the Nerd for the Long-Term Win.

December 20, 2014

A few months ago Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimea. This manly man, a legend for bare-chested horseback riding, was flexing Russia’ muscles while conservatives batted their eyelashes at this ‘real leader’. Hearts only beat harder when he acknowledged Russian support for the rebels demanding independence in eastern Ukraine. Missing W and his ill-considered adventurism – […]

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Conservative Magical Thinking.

December 19, 2014

“I hate news and information and anything that threatens to puncture the bubble of oblivion in which I live.” ― Augusten Burroughs. Conservatives have the remedy for what ails you. Unfortunately, their remedy is only wishful thinking, from the gut, because it feels right. And is usually totally useless. Here are a few examples. In […]

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Tortured Logic (Cartoon).

December 16, 2014

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Is America a Civilized Country?

December 13, 2014

“There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.” ― Mark Twain. To a self-referential US conservative the only safe place is white America and its country cousins Europe and the Antipodes. The Islamic world is a chaos of homicidal fury. The […]

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Are We Mom, the Flag, and Apple Pie – Or More Like the Guy at Applebee’s in the Wife Beater.

December 11, 2014

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville. We consider ourselves to be a decent people. Our heroes are stalwart sorts – who can be relied upon to the right thing. Cary Cooper, John Wayne and the Marlboro Man. We […]

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To Put Racism Behind Us, We Must Stop Making It About Race.

December 9, 2014

“Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal.” ― Benjamin Spock. Black activists and conservative whites both want to make the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner about race. The black activists because that is their raison d’être. End […]

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Democrats Run Away from Achievement – Straight off a Cliff.

December 8, 2014

In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.” ― Charles Dickens. Mary Landrieu lost her run-off election for the Louisiana Senate seat – easily. A seat that had been in Democratic hands for […]

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Creationism Is ‘Science’ Through the Looking Glass.

December 3, 2014

“Science knows it doesn’t know everything; otherwise, it’d stop. But just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.” ― Dara Ó Briain Christian Creationists are a rum lot. They do science in a mirror. The usual process of arriving at a […]

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