Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Wrong side of History.

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court, in a fit of cowardice mixed with cool logic, let stand the rulings of 5 different United States Appeals Courts who had all affirmed United States District Court rulings.  Those 5 District Courts had each ruled that laws in 5 states banning Same Sex Marriage violated the Constitution of the United States.  Based on that, Gay Marriage will now be legal in 30 States and the District of Columbia.  Well over half of America’s citizens now live in states where you are free to marry the adult person you love, whatever their gender.  Sanity seems to be prevailing.
I was struck by the paucity of outrage at the Supreme Court’s action (or inaction).  Across the nation, elected officials seemed to accept what had happened and within hours people were getting married in states where such a thing seemed impossible not 10 years ago.
From all that, I wondered if it is becoming clear to Conservatives how often they have been wrong.  Consistently wrong on almost every single significant issue of public policy.
They have been wrong, spectacularly wrong, on Civil Rights.  Conservatives opposed the Civil Right Act, the Voting Right Act, the Equal Rights Act and the 13 Amendment.  Conservatives oppose laws that ban discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.  Interestingly, they would often invoke religion (either explicitly or by implication) as justification for the discrimination that they wanted to continue to practice.
Gay marriage civil rights for homosexuals in general haven’t had any of the terrible consequences for America that Conservatives have been predicting.  Gay marriage hasn’t harmed heterosexual marriage in any way.  Gay’s are just a likely to be good parents (and just as likely to be bad parents) as straights.  Homosexuality isn’t the same as bestiality or pedophilia.  All the lies told by Conservatives about the impacts of Gay Right have all been proven wrong.
And now they are attacking a woman’s right to chose and American’s right to vote.
They have been consistently and unequivocally wrong on economic policy.  They opposed the Minimum Wage, Child Labor Laws, Occupational Safety Laws.  They opposed Social Security and Medicare, two programs that have transformed the lives of America’s elderly for decades.
Tax cuts do and never will pay for themselves.  Tax cuts provide a very small short term boost to the economy but are a long term drag on economic growth because the deficits that they cause raise the cost of credit for everyone, eliminating any tiny economic benefit they might have had at first.
They opposed the WWII GI Bill, which sent millions of returning veterans to college and helped propel the US Economy throughout the 50’s and into the 60’.
The opposed the President’s plan to rescue the GM and Chrysler and they were utterly and completely wrong about that.
They opposed the 2009 stimulus bill, predicting that it wouldn’t create job or generate economic activity and they were wrong about that.
They opposed President Clinton’s 1993 budget which created the conditions that led to our first balanced budgets since WWII concurrently with 8 years of historic economic growth.  Conservatives predicted that exactly the opposite would happen.
Conservatives predicted the President Bush’s tax cuts would spur the economy to strong growth and more jobs and what we got was 8 years of sluggish growth, increasing income inequality, and exploding deficits culminating in the Great Recession, which they then, amazingly, tried to blame on poor people.
More recently they opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) inventing a long and inventive list of lies and distortions, EVERY ONE OF WHICH HAS BEEN PROVEN WRONG.  Despite their predictions of doom and disaster, Obamacare is working better than expected.  More people that originally predicted have signed up for health insurance, many of them having health insurance for the first time in their lives.  And those newly insurance Americans are paying their premiums.  Obamacare is reducing the budget deficit and will reduce growth by ~1 Trillion Dollars in the next decade.  The rate of Health Care Inflation has slowed dramatically since Obamacare was passed.  There are no death panels, no FEMA Camps, no private Army.  The number of insurance companies that are registering on the exchanges to offer insurance is increasing.  Billions of dollars in Premiums have been rebated to consumers when their Insurance Company didn’t spend the large bulk of their income from premiums on paying claims.  Medicaid Expansion is helping to keep small local hospitals open, in those states that accepted the Medicaid Expansion.  Every significant prediction of failure or disaster that Conservatives predicted about the Affordable Care Act has proven to be wrong.
And they pretend not to notice.
It is difficult to find in the past century ANY conservative policy that has actually been good for this country.  I have asked the same question many times, name one Conservative Policy that has been good for America and I have gotten 1 answer.  One person named the Interstate Highway system, started and supported by President Eisenhower.  And that one policy is in reality, one of the largest publics works projects in American History, not exactly the kind of policy usually put forward by Conservatives.
In the past 60 years, we have had disputes about what impact science should have on public policy.  Starting in the late 50’s, it was becoming clear to scientists that the lead in our gasoline was poisoning our air and our waterways.  Scientists and Liberals advocated for the removal of lead from gasoline.  They were opposed by the oil and auto industries and by those industries Conservative supporters.  The supporters of Lead first simply denied the science.  They paid other scientists to come up with competing studies that said Lead in our air and water wasn’t poisoning us, or that it wasn’t coming from our gasoline.  When the argument was defeated by real scientists, they said that shifting away from Lead would ruin older cars and would hurt the economy.  Not surprisingly they were wrong.  Eventually, when we did finally eliminate lead from gasoline, we prevented thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans from the suffering that was the almost inevitable result of exposure to high levels of environmental lead.
The same pattern was repeated by the Tobacco Industry.  As it became scientifically clear that Tobacco was not only addictive, but was deadly, the Tobacco followed the same play book, hiring shill scientists to produce scientifically flawed studies that they could tout as proving that Cigarettes were neither Addictive or deadly.  When that argument was finally and conclusively squashed, they then attacked the victims.  Conservatives would argue that since it was now clear that cigarettes were deadly, it was the smokers fault for getting addicted in the first place, and that to blame the Tobacco companies was to deny personal responsibility.  Now we know that Tobacco companies have deliberately and systematically advertised their poisons to children since they need to replace 3000 smokers a day who die from smoking related illnesses.
When it became clear that we were destroying the very environment that we all had to live in, Conservatives opposed taking any actions.  They predicted that cleaning up the Air and Water would devastate the economy and put millions out of work.  And they were wrong, yet again.  Not only did cleaning up the environment not devastate the economy, it created entire new industries and put millions of people to work while dramatically improving the health of Americans and improving the Health of our planet.
And it goes on.  With Climate Change, the stakes are so much higher.  But the players and the tactics are the same.  Conservatives deny the science at the top of their lungs, and accuse thousands of actual Climate Scientists of corruption and dishonesty, while promoting the opinions of people who aren’t actually experts in the field.  Conservatives, despite their history and the numerous new studies that disagree with the, argue that doing anything about Climate Change will devastate the economy and put millions out of work.  Claims that they have made time and time again in previous “debates” where they have been utterly and completely wrong every time.
So I was wondering as I watched Conservatives losing another Civil Right battle, will they, do they every recognize that they are on the wrong side of history.  Do they see that they are almost in errantly wrong in their predictions.
It doesn’t seem so.  They ability to be self delusional is quite impressive.
They have lost the war on Gay Right, even though there are ever smaller and smaller battles to be fought, the end isn’t in doubt, and it isn’t anything like Conservatives have been prediction.

Yet again, wrong on the facts, wrong in their predictions and on the wrong side of history.  Its almost a Conservative mantra.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

An Armed Society is a Polite Society

In an on-line discussion I was participating in, one of the commenters stated categorically that an Armed Society was a Polite Society.  And this person was dead earnest about their belief.  That has stuck with me as emblematic of the insanity of the current gun control debate.  Turns out, not surprisingly, that it was a quote from my favorite Author, Robert A. Heinlein.  I learned a lot of my libertarian leaning from Heinlein and his books.  There are actually a couple of face book groups with that quote in their group name.
The whole quote is kind of illustrative:
“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”
There is a certain logic in this.  If you insult someone and do not apologize to their satisfaction, you could end up dead.  I guess that the fearful politeness that this engenders will make for a largely polite society.  Except of course, for those who wear body armor or are expert enough to win their duels.  If you are confident that you can best anyone you insult in the resulting duel, where is your motivation for mannerly behavior?  If you invent a newer, better, more lethal weapon, your need to be polite in society by this very definition goes down.  So someone who is disabled and not capable of that sort of personal combat, ends up being the one anyone and everyone can insult without fear of consequences.
To me, the inevitable result of that philosophy is a society of tiers where those who are physically capable, and who can afford the best equipment and the best training, will have no motivation to be polite, or at least will only need to be polite to those that might give them a close to equal contest.  You end up with a society of well armed and physically capable bullies preying on the rest of society

Not my idea of utopia.  Or even a polite society

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When was the last time Republicans were right about something?

When was the last time Republicans were right about something?

That’s not really a rhetorical question.  I am trying to figure out when it was.

Their apocryphal predictions about Obamacare are all turning out to be wrong.

They still insist, despite all the evidence, that the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus) was a failure despite all it did to prevent the economy collapsing into an actual depression.

The insisted that the President’s plan to bail out GM and Chrysler were doomed to failure.  Both GM and Chrysler are thriving and by time we finish selling the last of our stake in those companies we will actually have made a little money on the GM bailout and will have recovered almost all of the Chrysler bailout monies, without Washington bureaucrats telling the management of either company how to run their businesses.

Many, led by Senators McCain and Graham have criticized everything that this president has done on foreign policy.  Often changing positions almost overnight like McCain did with the President’s response to the Arab Spring revolution in Libya.

They take tragedies and mistakes and insist that they are scandals and keep repeating the same discredited attacks long after they have been debunked.

They acknowledged the reality of Climate Change before they decided it was a hoax (George Bush ran on a Carbon Tax in the 2000 campaign).

They were in favor of insurance exchanges before they were against them.  RomenyCare in Massachusetts was the implementation of a plan from the Heritage Foundation in response to Hillary care in 1993.  Romney implemented it in Mass in 2005 and then ran against the same plan in 2012.  The House GOP Budgets for the past few years have included a plan to transition people on Medicare from the current system to a system of insurance exchanges where people would shop for and buy individual insurance using Premium Support payments from the federal government.

Republicans are very concerned now about the Deficit and resulting National Debt only when there is a Democrat in the White House.  When Reagan tripled the annual deficit and more than doubled the National Debt, he became an almost religious Icon of the Right.  Bush the 2nd inherited a budget surplus and within 8 years had created a $1.3T deficit, more than doubling the National Debt in the process while Republicans kept insisting that the disastrous Bush Tax cuts be made permanent.  And not the incessantly criticize President Obama, glibly ignoring the simple fact that the annual deficit has FALLEN every year of his Presidency and has been more than cut in half as a percentage of the overall economy.

Republicans led us into the disaster that is Iraq based on faulty or even manufactured intelligence.

Republicans insist that we are overregulated while ignoring the fact that the Gulf Oil Spill, the series of oil pipeline ruptures across the country, the Freedom Industries spill in WV, the coal ash pond leaks in North Carolina, and the Financial Crisis that led to the current sluggish economy were ALL the result or either inadequate regulations or regulations that were not adequately enforced.

Republicans refused to renew extended Unemployment Insurance payments despite the reality that doing so only slows our economic growth even more.

They criticize the President because the economy isn’t growing as fast as anyone would like, claiming that the President’s policies have failed, all the while refusing to pass any of the measures he has proposed to stimulate job growth and boost the economy.

They blocked sensible gun control programs like expanding back ground check to close the Gun Show Loophole, proposals that have the support of a large majority of American’s.

They have blocked the President’s attempt to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform, insisting on enforcement first, while ignoring the fact that the Border Patrol has tripled in size under President Obama, that ICE and the Border Patrol have deported more undocumented workers than any administration in history and ignoring the fact that we have been a close to net 0 illegal immigration in the past 5 years.

When was the last time they were right about anything?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why are we still talking about Gay Marriage?


I really don’t understand.

I don’t understand how people who profess, as part of their larger political philosophy, that they want to get government out of people’s lives insist that the national government should make a law for everyone defining marriage.  Could there be a more intrusive example of government intrusion into our lives?

I don’t understand how people who profess to love the constitution would choose to ignore the 1st amendment to our Constitution and try to force the rest of us to live by the rules of their religion.

I am disappointed that people who try to make a historical argument about the institution of marriage have so little understanding of the history of marriage.

I am fascinated that people of faith who quote scripture to defend their positions seem to want to ignore all the variations of marriage that the bible has sanctioned.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad that most of the same people who insist that same sex marriage should be illegal will also insist that closing the gun show loophole or banning 30 round magazines infringe on their constitutional rights.  Ignoring the simple reality that there is no evidence that gay marriage hurts anyone while also ignoring the tremendous cost that we as Americans pay every day due to the easy availability of guns in our society.

Why is this something we still have to debate?

I really don’t understand.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Religion, Conservatism, and Facts


There are times where I wonder what planet these people are from, but then I remember they are Christian Conservatives and it all makes sense.

US Congressman Todd Akins is the Republican candidate for United States Senate from Missouri, running to unseat Claire McCaskill. Recently he got himself in trouble by saying that the female body would reject a pregnancy caused by a "legitimate" rape.

Not surprisingly, many people on both sides of the aisle reacted to such an incredibly stupid remark.  Also not surprisingly, some people felt compelled to support Rep. Akins and say that he was right.  The spokesman for the American Family Association, Bryan Fisher emphatically agreed with Rep. Akins, and Republican Rep Steve King of Iowa said he had never heard of an incest or statutory rape victim becoming pregnant.

They were both speaking in response to questions about the latest attempt by House Republicans to limit abortion.  Apparently among Republicans there is a growing movement to remove the rape and incest exemptions from most laws regulating abortion.  And part of that movement seems to believe that victims of rape or incest seldom if ever get pregnant.
In other words they are idiots.

Deliberately so.  It’s not like they morons don’t have staffs that can research their arguments to make sure they are factually based, they don’t care if they are factually based.  Remember the US Senator who went speaking on the Senate Floor claimed that 97% of Planned Parenthood’s business was abortions?  When he was confronted with facts that proved him wrong, the official statement from his office was that the Senator’s statement wasn’t intended to be factual.
These people don’t believe in facts.

It’s something that seems to have infected the entire Republican Party.
It ranges from the ridiculous stuff like Obama isn’t an American or wasn’t born in Hawaii to the silly like he Hates American or wants to punish success to simply lying about what he has said or done like the Stimulus didn’t create any jobs and President Obama wants to ban your guns.

And it extends to serious issue of policy like Tax Cuts pay for themselves, and those people who make over 250,000 are job creators, and global warming is a hoax.  All things that are simply not true.  There are some smart Republicans, who can actually read so they probably know what they are saying is not true.  And the rest are just sheep, believing anything Rush and O’Reilly say.
And I blame religion, particularly Conservative Christianity.

This is an old problem.  Galileo was imprisoned by the Catholic Church for having the audacity to claim that the earth was not the center of the universe.
More recently you have Conservative Christians that reject Evolution because the bible tells them so.  They bend themselves into rhetorical pretzels trying to claim that Creation Science is equally as valid as Natural Selection/Evolution despite the reality that the theories behind Evolution describe what we observe in the world far better than any competing theory and Creationism just pretends things like the world is only 5000 years old and man and dinosaurs were on the planet at the same time and that the first human was created 5000 years ago.  There is no evidence to support their theory, but they believe it anyway because they must.

I think of Creationism as the gateway drug to mass belligerent ignorance.
If Evolution is wrong, and all those scientists are wrong based on no evidence other than the bible, it’s no longer a challenge to just pretend that other things you don’t want to believe in aren’t true, despite the facts and data.

50 years ago, companies hired actual Physicians to advertise Cigarettes.  Then as the evidence became clear that cigarettes were both addictive and deadly, the companies launched a massive campaign to lie to the American people.  It was like the line from the some old country song, who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?  They would pay some scientist to pretend that the science wasn’t settled.  They couldn’t find actually medical doctors to lie for them anymore so they hired anybody with a degree that would say want the tobacco companies wanted them to say.  Meanwhile the US Surgeon General and very medical group in the country and any scientist who wasn’t paid by the cigarette companies were all yelling at the top of their lungs that cigarettes would addictive and deadly.  Yet some, mostly conservatives, chose to ignore the real science, to ignore the people who actually studied these diseases, because once you decided that science is just this stuff that those guys with degrees made up but you can ignore it just like you ignore evolution, then its easy to believe the utter bullshit pushed by the cigarette companies.
Finally, 50 years and uncounted millions of deaths later, nobody, not even shills paid by the cigarette companies, disputes the science.  But millions died while they were lying as loudly as they could.

And now we have the debate over Global Warming.
And the same pattern is being repeated.  The Science is clear.  The global average surface temperature is climbing and most of the current increase in temperature is the result of human activity.  And if we don’t change our ways we are going to devastate the global economy and displace hundreds of millions of people.  There really isn’t any doubt.  But shills and politicians paid for by the Coal and Natural Gas and Petroleum companies are willing to stand up and say it’s all a hoax.  Ignore all the science and focus on the fact that it snowed a lot in New York City last winter.  Steal some emails, extract stuff from the emails that makes the scientists look dishonest and then ignore the 6 separate studies that all conclude that the scientists didn’t actually lie or distort their data or conclusions.  Facts don’t matter to these people.
This facts don’t matter attitude, this deliberate and belligerent ignorance, is the essence of religious faith and the fact free rejection of evolution.  And its dangerous.

So now you have members of Congress claiming that rape victims don't get pregnant as a result of what was done to them.

And we have idiots defending them.

Because they live in a fact free universe where things are only true if they want them to be.

I wouldn't care if they were just idiots, but these are idiots in positions of power.  They can decide what a woman can do with her body.  They can impose medically unnecessary requirements on abortion clinics, and require that women have get vaginally violated by a doctor to have access to a safe and legal procedure, they CAN REQUIRE THAT YOUR DOCTOR LIE TO YOU about abortion.

The idiots that want to ignore the reality of Global Warming are tying to kill us wholesale, but idiots that are trying to ban abortion just want to kill women one at a time.  But they are idiots with power and that makes them dangerous.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Voter Suppression - The Never Ending Story

If you listen to Republicans as they try to defend all these new laws they are passing that make it harder to vote, remember the problem that they are trying to fix.

It's the demon Voter Fraud.

And they have the numbers to prove it.

The Republican Lawyers Association has a listing on their website of all the cases of voter fraud that they can find across this country in the past 10 years.

Look at it here (http://www.rnla.org/survey.asp)

340 or so cases.

In 10 years

Nationwide

What an epidemic of illegality

And about half are Voter REGISTRATION fraud, which all their new laws do nothing to prevent.

And another bunch are Absent Voter Fraud, which all their new laws do nothing to prevent.

So what are we left with

Nationwide

In 10 years

Maybe 70 cases.

And in order to prevent these 70 cases, they are willing, eager even, to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters.

And they claim to have the purest of motives.  But their actions call them liars.

There is no doubt that these new laws affect the poor, and the young and the elderly far more than they do the rest of America.  Put another way, these laws stop mostly Democratic voters from voting.

To prevent 70 cases nationwide over 10 years scattered across the country.

In Ohio, the Republican Secretary of State has cast the deciding vote in a number of counties on what hours the polling places should be open for early voting.  In counties that lean Democratic, he has voted not to allow evening and weekend voting.  You have to vote during normal business hours.  In counties that lean Republican he has voted to allow voting in the evenings and on weekends.

Are you tired of being lied to yet??

Are you outraged about a deliberate campaign to suppress voter turnout??

You should be!!

Its time to get outraged.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Romeny's "Experience"

Its been interesting to watch Governor Romney head off on his foreign tour.  He didn't start out well, insulting his British hosts before he even got there and then committing two verbal gaffes that had the British press in a feeding frenzy.

What I find interesting in all this is what is says about Governor Romney.

This is a man who has been running for the Presidency for 12 years.  He is a man of wealth and education.  And yet, he starts off on a world tour by insulting his hosts.  This is a man who is running on his experience.  As Governor, as venture capitalist, as CEO of the Utah Olympic games.  He wants you to believe that he had the resume to supplant a sitting president.  And this is how he starts off his first foreign travel of the campaign.

If then Senator Obama had been equally as clumsy when he went on his foreign tour 4 years ago, the Republican noise machine would have had a field day and would still be talking about it.  Instead he gave addresses, especially in Berlin, that were widely praised.

The two gaffes say, I think, something Romney's management ability.  I am fairly well traveled, and I don't know that I would know how to address the leader of the loyal opposition.  But I would have someone on my staff that would know.  Someone who would make sure I knew how to address the opposition leader.  But he didn't.  And then he has a private meeting with the head of the British intelligence service.  This is something you are not supposed to talk about.  Yet he did.  Again, where was his staff.  Romney's campaign has been full of this kind of stupid stuff.  I don't know that it says good things about Romney's so called experience or about his management abilities.  If this is how he runs a campaign, how is he going to run our Government?