Almost a week ago, the redoubtable Charles Pierce had an interesting take on last Tuesday's State of the Union speech, entitled The Audacity of Shame. As always, it's entirely worth the read, but in this rare instance, I must disagree with Mr. Pierce's analysis.
The premise of that analysis is that despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, President Obama still believes the Republicans in Congress are amenable to shaming, that they still have a conscience to appeal to. Obama's belief persists (Pierce asserts) despite Republicans having pitched their tents and dug fortifications in the central square of Crazytown at the behest of a variety of certifiable donors, pundits, activist teabaggers, religious bigots, malleable journalists, and other assorted freaks who are in fact, driving the party's very short bus.
Pierce points out the meager requests in Tuesday's speech (asking not for passage of legislation, but simply for votes), and claims that Obama's calls for Congress to behave like a legislature and vote on things means the President believes there is still some vestige of bipartisan interest in governing somewhere deep in the makeup of today's GOP that is struggling to survive.
Pierce's is a plausible assessment, and draws on a first term record that showes Obama appealing to this bipartisan interest in governing again and again, despite getting his head handed to him every time. Nonetheless, I think the assessment is wrong.
I am fully aware that my own biases and hopes may well be coloring my disagreement, but I don't think Obama is as naive as Pierce asserts. I think Obama has given up on the GOP, and may have given up on the Democrats in the house to effectively oppose them (it would be interesting to know what the White House's calculations were about the Senate's proposed rule changes calculated to make the filibuster more difficult, which were so crippled by Harry Reid and a few Senate Democrats as to make them laughably ineffective.)
I don't think the president's appealing to a native GOP interest in governing at all, but to an electorate that shows consistent polling numbers that support the policies he proposed. I think Obama was speaking primarily to that electorate last Tuesday night, and to the extent that he was speaking to those in the House chamber at all, it was to say "I'm done with quiet negotiating in search of bipartisanship. You guys have finally convinced me that it gets me nowhere, and instead, I'm going over your heads and making the case before the voters."
There are reasons to believe this would be a good strategy. First, the appeal to bipartisanship has been a demonstrable waste of time, and shows every indication of continuing to be. The much-vaunted "Republican remix" that's been getting a lot of ink and electrons over the last few weeks, shows no sign of changing any GOP policy prescriptions or inclining the Congress to any action that would make it any easier to deal with.
Second, those polls do show pretty broad support for many of the solutions the president proposed (in some cases, overwhelming support - see background checks).
Third, the GOP has been so consistently batty for the last couple of years that they are slightly less popular than root canal. Not so Obama - see policy polling reference above, and note very solid support numbers for the president.
Finally, it's fairly clear that Obama has learned from experience that he has nobody to deal with on the other side. John Boehner can't control his own caucus, Republicans in the Senate are engaging in unprecedented filibustering of his nominees for key cabinet posts, and there's nobody in the opposition party with the inclination and the nerve to stike a bargain with him.
In short, the Republican party seems so bent on factional self-destruction that it doesn't have time to even attempt to help govern the country. It's been spouting nonsensical rhetotric for so long that it has lost track of the difference between its own press releases and reality. That connection has always been tenuous, and it has grown ever more so over the last few years. The party's leadership (such as it is) has convinced itself that all it has to do to win elections is appeal to the same base it has been feeding a steady diet of paranoid gibberish for the last fifteen years. The problem is that in order to appeal to that base, its rhetoric has gotten steadily more extreme, and it is now so divorced from the real world that even though parts of the leadership have begun to realize they have gone way off the reservation, they can't find their way back.
In such circumstances, there is really only one solution. If you try again and again to stop fighting with an opponent, and yet he still refuses to stop, you have two remaining choices. You can either surrender (a tactic the Democtrats have been using for decades, for reasons passing all understanding), or you can keep hitting him until he can't get up any more. If you can't get him to join you in saying "truce", you are left with forcing him to say "uncle". All presidents are said to have an eye on history in their second terms, and Obama is likely no different. However, he may have made the calculation that he will either force the Republicans to start working with him to enact those parts of his agenda that he wants to leave as a legacy (not out of shame, but out of the shreds of their own instinct for political self-preservation), or he'll sacrifice that legacy for another that may have longer-term benefits to the country - he'll preside over the self-destruction of the current Republican party.
We've seen a lot of assertions recently (from the NRA, Glenn Beck, batshit insane radio host Alex Jones, and a wide variety of gun rights absolutists) that our freedoms are at risk if we place any controls on gun ownership, and these assertions are "supported" by claims that various dictators began to opress their people by taking away their guns. Stalin and particularly Hitler are cited as exemplars of this risk. It's nonsense, and it deserves a response, so here it is:
The “argument” that Hitler began the Holocaust by disarming the
German people is taken from a book written in 1994 by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre
called “Guns, Crime, and Freedom”, in which he said; “In Germany, Jewish
extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”
That statement may be intuitively plausible, but it’s as wrong now as it was when it was written. All private firearms in Germany were banned and confiscated by the Weimar government in 1919 in order to comply with the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1928, the Weimar government relaxed that ban, but placed strict licensing and permitting requirements on all firearms, including separate permits required to: own, privately sell, carry, manufacture, or professionally deal in firearms and ammunition.
Please remember that the Nazis came to power five years later, in 1933. The 1938 law that LaPierre referred to did pretty much exactly the opposite of what he claimed it did. It completely deregulated the ownership and transfer of long guns and ammunition, lowered the minimum age of purchase from 20 to 18, and dramatically increased the numbers of people, including Nazi party members, who were entirely exempt from any gun regulations. A subsequent law did prohibit Jews from owning firearms, but very few Jews owned firearms anyway, or had since 1919. What’s more, the law wasn’t passed until after Kristallnacht and years of other beating and lynching of Jews, and after five years of anti-semitic legislation which banned Jews from participation in a wide range of professions, prohibited intermarriage between Jews and other Germans, stripped German Jews of their citizenship, and ordered forced sterilizations in the hundreds of thousands. With that history preceding it, to say that the firearms law was what started the Holocaust is dangerously wrong and frankly ridiculous.
Apart from the factual historical inaccuracy in LaPierre’s
assertion, it relies on a premise that’s also widespread in today’s argument –
that a persecuted subgroup could make an effective stand against an army
determined to destroy it by virtue of having guns. A few moments careful consideration
will reveal this premise to be tenuous at best. In the case of the Jews in
Germany, one historian has observed that the Russian army lost 7 million men
fighting the Wehrmacht, SA, and SS, despite having tanks, planes, artillery,
and an alliance with several other world powers. To imagine that German Jews,
armed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, would have done better, is absurd on
Frankly, the same is true in the US today. Despite the mythology that we are so fond of steeping ourselves in, what protects our freedoms is public vigilance, not armed individuals. If the US military was ordered to take up arms against some subgroup of our citizens, with or without the acquiescence and support of the American public, and agreed to follow that order, that subgroup would be in a world of trouble. Anyone who tells you differently either has an agenda that makes them uninterested in the factual basis of the arguments they are presenting, has no idea about the value of actual military training, weapons, and tactics, or has been watching waaay too many Rambo movies.
<Correction: The argument that Hitler started the Holocaust by disarming German Jews is actually older than LaPierre's book, dating at least to 1989, when a gun rights group called Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership used it to argue against the imposition of a handgun ban in Chicago.>
This article on HuffPo describes the very public musings of some evangelical leaders about the greater meaning of Rev. Louie Giglio's removal from the list of performers at Barack Obama's second innaugural. Rev. Giglio was scheduled to deliver a blessing, and that schedule was changed after homophobic and condemnatory quotations from the bible were found in a sermon he taught in 1996. The leaders in question have been concern-trolling about whether this means that we as a people are intolerant of those with deeply held religious convictions, and that they are unwelcome to share those convictions with the rest of us at a secular and political event.
Leaving aside the whole issue of whether it's appropriate to have blessings offered by anyone at a secular celebration such as the innauguration of a president, it's specatularly rich that those whining about intolerance of their beliefs have
been shoving the intolerance in their beliefs down everyone's throat for
the last thirty years or so. For those "wondering" if that bigotry is
still "welcome in the public square", no, it's not, and good riddance.
It's a cute rhetorical trick to bemoan disapproval of intolerance as intolerant, but it's transparently nonsense, and it has finally begun to stop working. As others have said, believe whatever bronze-age gibberish you like, but don't expect the rest of us to take those beliefs as sacrosanct or worthy of special consideration just because somebody thousands of years ago wrote them in your magic book. Your bigotry is exactly as "welcome in the public square" as the idea that the earth is flat and has dragons around the edge of it.
Another exchange, this time about guns (of course):
Push God aside and you get Godlessness. Liberals have been pushing moral relativism on us for 30 years, now they complain about the results of their own actions.
It's remarkable to see just how far some folks will go to see that we have the best equipped murderers in the world.
You mean forcing every taxpayer to pay for Planned Parenthood??
No, I mean whining about God
to try to wash the blood off your hands. If your Christianist rhetoric came
within shouting distance of reality, the murder rate in the rest of the
developed world (where there is much less religious observance than we have in
this country, where it's legal almost everywhere for a woman to choose what
happens in her own body, and where guns are either banned or closely regulated)
would be much higher than it is here. Yet somehow, we still have 20 times the
gun violence of next most violent developed country.
The guy whose drivel you're cutting and pasting won't recognize or attempt to handle the truth until it shoots someone he loves in a shopping mall. Provide me with a remotely cogent reason why the statistics I mention are true other than gun regulation, and prove to me that you're not that stupid.
I don't know where you get your so called facts, but when you factor for population size per 100,000 gun related deaths the USA is not even in the top 10 countries. When you consider that we have Drug Cartels operating on our Southern border with kidnaping and murder an everyday occurrence, and most major cities with gang violence the majority of gun crimes, it is clear that is the primary source of the statistics that do exist. When you couple that with the fact that of ALL Crimes, only 0.19% are committed by licensed gun owners. So the law abiding gun owners are not the problem regardless what equipment they own. Additionally, gun crime has actually gone down over the past 10 years despite the mainstream medias attempt to sensationalize every single story they get their hands on, and then mis-report it. Most recent example is in the CT school shooting, the Medical Examiner lied on camera saying that 100% of the shots were done from an AR 15 Assault Rifle. The actual fact is that the AR 15 was found locked in Lanza's car, not in the school. Lanza actually had 4 pistols with him in the school, which was clear to anyone that responded to the scene. So why lie about it if not politically motivated? That is the hard facts, known as the truth where I come from. Sorry it doesn't fit your story line. And as far as the Godlessness aspect, I am not a religious person nor am I advocating for religion. What I am advocating is for a heartfelt moral code that fills the void of religion for the non religious. A strong distinction between right and wrong. Moral relativism is not a healthy thing to be preaching, and having the ACLU prevent people like Adam Lanza that clearly should be institutionalized kept on the streets because they make it so difficult to get them admitted against their will. That is where our problems lie, not with the type of equipment a person has in their gun safe.
If what you want is an ethics
that keeps us from being violent, you might want to start by saying what you
mean instead of blindly parroting a bunch of ignorant crap from a Christianist "patriot"
whose most important thought is that he happens to feel the same way that you
do about liberals and his firearms. It's worth reading what you link to, as
well as the posts you're answering, more carefully. I didn't say the US was in
the top ten countries in gun deaths per capita, I said we had 20 times the gun
deaths of the next most violent *developed* country. Has our moral relativism
made us inherently more violent than the social democratic countries of Europe
(where the influences that spawned our moral relativism were born, and thrive
to this day)? Does our "godlessness" mean we have less of a
"heartfelt moral code" than they do, despite their being more godless
than we are? If so, maybe it's not the liberal social democracy or the
godlessness that's causing the problem.
Your "facts" about what weapons the shooter had with him in the school come from an incorrect report about what he used that has since been debunked by the state police on the scene. The truth is that he had two handguns and an AR15 with him, and apparently a shotgun in the trunk of the car (several other long guns were found at his mother's house). While it appears that he used primarily the AR15, all of the guns he had with him had several high capacity magazines ("carrying hundreds of rounds"), according to the state police spokesman, Lt. Vance.
You're right, though, about this: CT has quite restrictive gun laws, and they didn't stop him from killing his mother and taking her guns (which she kept for self-protection and apparently because she was worried about the collapse of society, two reasons that don't seem to have served her well). What's more, two handguns, particularly with high-capacity magazines, would have been more than adequate to kill 20 schoolchildren and six teachers, and I'm sure it makes little difference to them or their families what weapon they were killed with. Neither I nor anyone I'm aware of is saying that banning assault weapons or limiting the number of rounds in a magazine will stop all gun violence in the US, nor are we saying that law-abiding gun owners are the problem (since, by definition, they're not). Straw men make easy targets, but like demonizing those who disagree with you, shooting at them doesn't contribute to rational discussion and tends to incur collateral damage.
I've said to you before, I don't want to take away your guns, or give up my rights either. I do want to make sure that you're not unstable when you buy one (apparently, the Newtown shooter was prevented from buying more guns by local waiting period laws), I want to hold you accountable for what gets done with them, and I want to prevent anyone from having magazines whose only purpose is to be able to commit more mayhem more quickly before reloading.
I'm all for working on an ethics that keeps us from being violent, and I'd love to live in a society that glorifies violence a lot less, but if you think it's difficult to impose restrictions on guns by law, you're in for a surprise when it comes to imposing such an ethics on people. As for myself, I don't believe that we are that different from those in other developed countries, and yet we have rates of gun homicides and suicides that are literally orders of magnitude greater then theirs. You can bring in all the side issues you want, but the fact remains that the most striking difference between us and those people is that we have unfettered access to guns and a persistent mindset that those guns are somehow making us safer, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.
In your last paragraph, you are
right that it is harder to instill ethics and a moral code in people, but the
fact remains that that is the issue here, not guns, or the number of rounds
they shoot before reloading, which takes under 2 seconds if properly trained.
Unless you are happy about the School Principal facing her attacker completely
defenseless, the other issue is gun free zones. Gun free zones, like many
liberal initiatives, have consequences quite different than the intention.
Posting a sign with a gun circled and slashed in red means inside this building
are defenseless soft targets. In the Colorado theater shooting, of the nearly
dozen theaters in the local area, the one chosen was the only theater that rejected
concealed carry inside. Do you think that was a coincidence? I would have much
preferred to have the Elementary School Principal confront Lanza with a gun she
was trained to use, and perhaps she and 26 others would still be with us today.
That would have been a much better outcome, and certainly no worse. In Santee,
Calif. a student began shooting his classmates — as well as the “trained campus
supervisor”; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school
that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive.
Total dead: Two. In Pearl High School, Mississippi, after shooting several
people at his high school, the student heads for the junior high school;
assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points
it at the gunman’s head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.
Bottom line: Bad guys with guns are primarily stopped by good guys with guns, the less time if any required to have a good guy with a gun on the scene the better the outcome. So we need less bad guys in general, by whatever means that can be accomplished, and more good guys with guns.
More hand-waving, Bill. Bottom line: there is no statistical support for your anecdotes being useful predictors of reality - more guns means more death, including more death of those whose guns are intended as defenses against that death (the incidence of gun death among those who own guns is roughly triple what it is among those who don't). I'm happy for the people who survived the shootings you mention, but until you and the NRA can come up with some answer for that difference that both addresses that issue and passes the laugh test, your anecdotes are unpersuasive as guides to public policy.
There is great statistical support for what I said: Mexico. No Mexican Citizen can own a gun, and there is only one State owned gun store in the entire country, yet the gun deaths per 100,00 people is 5 times worse than here in the USA.
I gather from your response that you are happy that the school principal met her attacker defenseless.
I'm not sure I'd use Mexico
in my argument, if I were you. Mexico has terrible gun violence, but no
economist in his right mind would call it a wealthy, industrialized or
developed country. It's an economic basket case, rife with official corruption
that makes a mockery of its gun laws, that has had a vicious drug war raging
for several years.
That war, by the way, is fueled entirely by US demand for drugs the right has insisted we criminalize (instead of treating them as a public health problem, which would dramatically increase the chance of success of our policy efforts), and mostly by US weapons that flood over the Mexican border every day. The apparently ill-advised "Fast and Furious" operation you all on the right are so fond of mischaracterizing as an anti-gun plot was started because the corruption in the Mexican army is so bad that the ATF didn't trust their counterparts south of the border to track the entry of American weapons from the more than 2000 gun dealers on our side of the border.
Many of those dealers were selling arms in bulk to walk-in customers with bags of cash and shopping lists of exactly the kind of weapons and magazines we're arguing about. The argument that those dealers didn't know perfectly well that cash purchases of truckloads of guns were intended to arm drug gangs would be laughable if it weren't so drenched in blood, and it's worth noting that the Mexicans don't trust Americans either, since our lax gun laws handcuff American agents from taking effective action in this country against the scourge that American weapons have become in Mexico.
All of that said, Mexico has a little better than three times the gun death of the US, not five, and we have ten times the gun suicide rate they do. Between the impact of lax American gun policy on the Mexican situation, the disastrous drug war underway, and the poor comparison between the two countries economically, I'd say your "statistical support" is weak at best.
Statistically, the people in the United States that register for hunting permits alone, not counting all of the people that have guns and CCP's comprise the second largest army in the world. If the Mexican citizenry were as well armed as the US citizenry the likelihood is that Mexico would not be in nearly the amount of trouble it is currently in, because the Narco Terorists would not have been able to terrorize the population to the degree it has and the police and military could have stood up to the corruption. So it is a good example of why we need to keep our hunting traditions and self defense weapons rights intact, especially with the same cartels operating in this country in conjunction with street gangs retailing the drugs in all our major cities. Australia had triple the amount of crime when they gave up their guns. In every single State that Concealed Carry laws are on the books, there was an immediate decrease in gun related crimes, so statistically more guns in the hands of good guys, not just law enforcement has reduced crime and gun crimes specifically.
Bill, saying that "statistically" the number of people who hold firearms in the US is large is like saying that statistically, you and I are middle-aged: it may be true, but it's meaningless, particularly as a guide to public policy. After that null statement, you provide a lot of utterly unsupported speculation about what might happen if Mexico were to revoke its gun laws, as well as an assertion that Mexican authorities could then have stood up to the corruption, which is ridiculous, given that it's the Mexican authorities themselves that are corrupt. All of this is in support of a premise that is flawed, because even with crushing economic poverty, official corruption, and a raging drug war fueled by US weapons and US demand, Mexicans aren't all that much more subject to gun violence that we are (adding deaths by homicide, suicide, and accident together, 11.12 Mexicans per 100,000 die from gun violence annually, compared to 9 in the US - in the rest of the developed world, the average is 1.5).
You follow that with an assertion about what happened in Australia after Australians "gave up their guns". First, it's worth remembering that the US gun homicide rate is over 16 times what Australia's is (Australia loses .18 people to gun homicide each year per 100,000, while we lose 2.98. Add all three types of gun death together and they lose 1.14 people per 100,000 annually – we still have over ten times that gun death rate here).
Second, Australians didn't give up their guns. They are required to register and be licensed to own guns and ammo, licensing that requires training and a legitimate reason. Australians have decided that self-defense isn't a legitimate reason, but hunting, sport shooting, and collecting are, and those activities are all still alive and well "down under".
Third, the statistic you cite about crime tripling is pure garbage, cherry-picked from unrepresentative newspaper articles in 2000 by the NRA, and so misleading that Australia's federal state prosecutor (the analog of the US attorney general) requested that Australia's name be removed by the NRA from any such assertions. The truth is that Australia has relatively low levels of violent crime generally, and they have been in decline since well before firearms regulations were tightened in 1996. Additionally, both gun ownership and gun violence has been declining in Australia for decades, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of all crimes. There is some discussion about whether the enacting of stricter gun regulations has hastened that decline or it hasn't, but NOBODY in Australia is claiming that the number of crimes increased AT ALL, including anybody who wrote the articles the NRA constructed its tissue of lies from.
You said you didn't know where I got my "so-called facts" from, but you do know, as I've told you before. Most of the statistics (including those I've cited in this post) come from a site called gunpolicy.org, which, as it happens, is an Australian academic site, so they have no dog in our fight. I think the statistics you've alluded to about the decline in US states with concealed carry permits are wrong too, and would like to see a credible citation for them, but I doubt I will, and given the lack of credibility in the statistics you've presented so far, I'm not going to bother to debunk them myself the way I have the others.
The reality is that I'm finding the steady stream of changes of subject and the misinformation you present to be tiresome and a waste of both of our time. It's too bad we can't have a discussion free from such hand-waving and such fabrication, because that's the only way we'll ever reach common ground, but I guess that's not what you're after. Have a happy and safe new year.
The AR-15 can fire 30 rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger.
Some of my "Wingnut Dialogues" are more productive than others. This one started out with a fairly incendiary post, and I think actually gained some ground, so the "wingnut" part is probably unfair, as it relates to the whole thing, though it certainly started that way. It was started the day of the Newtown school shooting, by an image of Adolf Hitler with the quote imposed on it: “To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens”
I have some interesting correspondents on Facebook and elsewhere that I seem compelled to try to have cogent discussion with. In hopes that doing so isn't totally wasted (which it often seems to be at the end of such exchanges), I'm going to start reposting them here for your edification and (ahem) enjoyment. Please feel free to comment!
This one was started by a picture post that noted that 53% of Democrats had a favorable view of socialism and said that therefore 53% of Democrats were idiots. My replies are started with single dots, and my frined's comments have multiple dots:
While we're at it, the share of financial wealth (net worth minus home value) owned by the 5% you claim (falsely) pay 70% of the taxes: 72%. We rank first among developed countries in income and wealth inequality, and ahead of such paragons of democracy and economic fairness as Russia and Iran. We haven’t quite gotten to the level of the banana republics or the central African failed states yet, but we’re getting there, and our tax policy is a primary cause.
As to your assertion that "...the President wants to
do away with the debt ceiling so he can authorize spending increases without
Congressional approval", it's unalloyed bullshit, and if you don't know
it, you certainly should. The debt ceiling doesn't authorize spending a nickel –
that was, is, and will be Congress’ job, in the appropriations process. The
debt ceiling authorizes paying bills the Congress has already incurred, and the
main reason we “…have been lucky
so far that the interest rates on our debt have been low…” is that we have
always paid our debts, so US treasury bills are considered by credit markets to
be the best debt in the world.
The so-called “fiscal cliff” is mostly hogwash designed to stampede the ignorant into creating even more inequality in our economy, but if you really wanted to trash the US economy (and the world’s, by the way), you couldn’t pick a faster and better way to do it than by defaulting on US debt and undermining the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Even the threat of doing that causes massive uncertainty and raises our cost of borrowing.
In that context, such threats are like children playing with firearms, and the debt ceiling legislation has gone from being the stupid and pointless political kabuki theater it used to be to the equivalent of leaving a Glock on the coffee table at a five-year-old’s birthday party. In 2011, the Republicans in Congress proved to have the same maturity as those five year olds, and put a bullet in the toaster. Now, they’re wrestling over the gun again, and if they were those five-year-olds, you would take it away from them before something more important than the toaster got shot. That’s what the president and the adults in Congress are trying to do – take the gun away from the five-year-olds.
The only way you would get a fair tax policy that would fairly address wealth, not income, success or achievement would be to eliminate the income tax and do a consumption based national sales tax. Then nobody would be able to bitch about "fair share", or "makers and takers". Everyone would have skin in the game, and those with large disposable incomes would fairly pay the majority of the taxes.
Democrats act as though if someone makes allot of money it comes at someone elses expense, which is absurd. By one person becoming successful it does not make another person poorer. There will always be income inequality, and if this country wants to have less poor people than maybe we should stop importing poverty from other countries and require a minimum education level or skills to be eligible for citizenship.
I didn't answer this last post on Facebook because I really am done with chasing this argument in that context - it's been a cavalcade of subject changes and hand-waving on the other end, and I'm tired of it. Here, though, I get the last word - "I paid for this microphone":
The social contract is enshrined in every law and foundational document that orders this country, from the Magna Carta forward. It's also described in some detail by the moral philospher and justifier of capitalism Adam Smith, in both Wealth of Nations and his less known work, the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Copying is difficult, and since the request is rhetorical, I won't bother, but maybe a Google search? As to the rest of the wingnut doctrine that is included in the last post, we don't tax the wealthy to make them poorer, we have a progressive taxation that hits the wealthy harder because they have received the most from society's organization, and can most easily afford to pay the bills associated with maintaining it. As to "...pure Socialism right out of the Communist Manifesto", the ignorance in that remark speaks for itself.
In honor of the Supreme Court's granting certiorari on the Prop 8 case, here's a link to an editorial by Michael Morford in the SF Chronicle the day after the CA supreme court ruled it constitutional. And here's the nut:
"Head on down to your local high school -- hell, make it a junior high or even an elementary -- and take yourself an informal survey. Ask the various wary, bepimpled youth of Generation Tweet what they think about those scary gay people getting married.
Ask them, in your most panicky, alarmist, Mormonified voice: Aren't they horrified at the very idea? Aren't they shocked at the very thought of two people in love having their union officially recognized and validated by the state?
Please note the response. Please observe how the kids merely look at you as though you're more than a little bit deranged and prehistoric, so out of touch you might as well be Dick Cheney talking up the diesel-powered rectal thermometers he so loved back in World War I.
Watch carefully as they sigh and roll their eyes, then whip out their Nokias to text their friends about how this creepy elder just tried to convince them that the harmless, yawningly commonplace homosexuality currently saturating the popular culture all around them, from fashion to Facebook, movies to "American Idol," is not only wrong, but so wrong that the law should ban it forever because... well, no one really seems to know exactly why.
Did you see it? That big, sighing shrug of what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you, combined with lots of who-the-hell-cares? Because that's the reaction to note most of all.
Here is what it tells you: Gay marriage is a foregone conclusion. It's a done deal. It's just a matter of time. For the next generation in particular, equal rights for gays is not even a question or a serious issue, much less a sinful hysterical conundrum that can only be answered by terrified Mormons and confused old people and inane referendums funded by same. It's just obvious, inevitable, a given."
It's been a long time since I've posted on this blog - just didn't have much to say that felt worth saying. I'm still not sure I do, but remaining silent is not useful, so here is a TED talk that I found inspirational. It was recorded just after the first inauguration of President Obama, but its message is every bit as important now as it was then. Enjoy...
My point was that the wealthiest plutocrats now actually control a greater share of the pie in the United States than in historically unstable countries like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. But readers protested that this was glib and unfair, and after reviewing the evidence I regretfully confess that they have a point.
That’s right: I may have wronged the banana republics.
The wealthiest 1% of Americans own 34% or our national wealth. The next 9% own 37%. The other 90% own the 29% that's left.
We've tolerated this inequality because of two important pieces of our national identity; we are supposed to have greater social mobility than other countries, and supposedly, "a rising tide lifts all boats".
Here's the problem - neither of these components of our national mythology is true.
This isn't the first time this has happened in the US - it has happened before most of our economic disasters, and for the same reasons. FDR faced the same forces in 1932, and his intention was to save capitalism from itself. His cousin Theodore had already noted the same forces, and made one of the country's greatest speeches about it, in Osawatomie, Kansas, in 1910:
"The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being.
There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done....
The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise.... We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary."
There's more, and it could have been written yesterday. Read it!
The Terminator, a k a the Governator, is not happy. And you shouldn’t be either.
via www.nytimes.comRead it all, but here's the nut: “We can wait to solve this problem as long as we want,” says Nate Lewis, an energy chemist at the California Institute of Technology: “But Nature is balancing its books every day. It was a record 113 degrees in Los Angeles the other day. There are laws of politics and laws of physics. Only the latter can’t be repealed.”
Commentary: I'm rich; tax me more | McClatchy.
Well here's a breath of fresh air. Some common sense from someone who has personally benefited from the low tax rates on high incomes, and who recognizes that they contribute to dangerous inequalities in wealth, stifle economic growth, and produce little or no additional investment. Read the whole thing, but the most important line may be:
Environmentalism: The word is not enough. In my opening statement at the debate the other night, I had 60 seconds to reach a half-drunk, half-interested crowd. In those circumstances, you realize pretty quickly that you have to cut straight to the core of things. I hadn't really thought it out in advance, but I realized just before I went on stage that the first thing I wanted to say is simple: I'm not an environmentalist and these aren't environmental challenges.
This is a great article by Grist's David Roberts, in which he points out that the issue of climate change requires too broad a change in our society to allow it to be pigeonholed as a purely "environmental" concern. He points out that environmentalists have taken an early lead in pointing out the perils of continuing on the course we have been on, but says the mindset of the environmental movement has been shaped by the movement's early successes as a purely regulatory issue (find polluters and prevent them or make them pay for polluting).
Roberts' article revisits a discussion from 2004, spurred by an article by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger, entitled "The Death of the Environmental Movement", in which they too argued that the environmental movement has become moribund by getting lost in the tactics that brought it early success, and that it has consequently been weak at dealing with the backlash that has been stirring in the American public for the last thirty years. They too argued that the climate crisis is too broad and too important to be stuck with the same myopia. That article caused a lot of fuss when it was published, but it's an interesting discussion, and as Roberts' article indicates, one that deserves revisiting.
It's ultimately up to the FCC to protect Net Neutrality, and we need to hold them and our lawmakers accountable to us. We need to fight back and speak up to tell the FCC that we want a completely open Internet.If you value the innovation on the internet, as well as your ability to choose what you read, listen to, and watch, please follow both links and tell both Google and your legislators that you care what they do about this issue. Telecom companies are spending millions in lobbying money to get Congress and the FCC to allow them to control this public resource. Those lawmakers need to know there will be political costs if they get bought by this lobbying money, anmd Google needs to know there will be economic costs that are too high. They've gotten rich on the innovation on the web, and pulling up the ladder behind them to stop other innovators is not acceptable.
Dear Conservative Americans,
The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.
This is heartfelt, encyclopedically researched, and very good read. It's from someone who describes himself this way: "A 1960s/70s mainstream Republican, which makes me a 2010 socialist/communist fringe Lefty Democrat bent on destroying America. Go figure."