I used to groove to this when I was a kid in the 70s:
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
William Greider essay, from the Nation courtesy of Bill Moyers:
Nevertheless, Republicans face a larger problem. The GOP finds itself trapped in a marriage that has not only gone bad but is coming apart in full public view. After five decades of shrewd strategy, the Republican coalition Richard Nixon put together in 1968 — welcoming the segregationist white South into the Party of Lincoln — is now devouring itself in ugly, spiteful recriminations.
Because most Republicans are in complete denial about the ramifications of the Southern Strategy, or that there even is such a thing, for that matter, they have absolutely no way of understanding what's happening to their party right now. That means the rage and frustration and gnashing of teeth are probably only going to get worse in the foreseeable future.
Bad things happen when Republicans go on an extended rage bender.
Posted by Ron at 3:55 PM
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Or, as is traditionally understood by political science, reactionaries. It is absolutely right that what dominates the Republican Party today, and which calls itself "conservative," is NOT conservative. It's something else, something far beyond that, and they've been fooling us all for years.
Also, actual conservatives are now more or less part of the Democratic Party. The Republicans are ideological outliers.
Posted by Ron at 6:00 PM
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
From the Houston Press:
With this combination of dialogue, music and dance, no one raises the roof like the black leather, tight-fitting, double breasted, coat done up to the neck-wearing Van Helsing (a finely taut and hysterically dead serious Ron Reeder). With his mashable Dutch/something else vaguely Eastern European accent he spews Wellman’s invented words (Jonathan, who has taken to eating flies, spiders, and even a sparrow, he dubs a ‘zooaphagus’, or one that eats others) and delivers a whirlwind song and dance explanation of what a “wampire” is. Van Helsing is the crux of the dark humor in this production and Reeder plays it to perfection.
Mostly a decent review, although it makes what I think are a few unfair assertions here and there. But I do have to say that this is, without a doubt, the absolute best review I have ever personally received as an actor. Yes, I'm insufferably pleased with myself at the moment.
We've got three more performances, Thursday through Saturday. Come see the show!
Posted by Ron at 5:03 PM
Monday, October 26, 2015
From the New York Times:
Today, almost 20 years after Mr. Clinton signed a law that stopped the federal entitlement to cash assistance for low-income families with children, the argument has solidified into a core tenet influencing social policy not only in the United States but also around the world.
And yet, to a significant degree, it is wrong. Actual experience, from the richest country in the world to some of the poorest places on the planet, suggests that cash assistance can be of enormous help for the poor. And freeing them from what President Ronald Reagan memorably termed the “spider’s web of dependency” — also known as forcing the poor to swim or sink — is not the cure-all for social ills its supporters claim.
Increasingly, it's looking like conservatives are wrong about EVERYTHING. And, for this case, when you think about it for, like, two seconds, it makes complete sense. When conservatives talk about "welfare dependency" or how welfare keeps people from wanting to work, all that "laziness" crap, they're essentially pretending to be magical psychologists with the ability to peer into people's souls to see what makes them tick. Of course they're wrong. They have no idea what they're talking about. That's par for the course these days.
Posted by Ron at 5:58 PM
Sunday, October 25, 2015
It is impossible to avoid noting that this change coincides very nicely with two other historical events. First, the rise of cost effective global shipping, which allowed corporations to outsource manufacturing, which, in turn, ultimately destroyed organized labor in America. Second, the election of Ronald Reagan and the eventual embrace of neoliberal economics by the entire US establishment, including the Democrats, including, even, the "liberal" media.
We didn't end up in this sorry state of affairs by accident.
Posted by Ron at 9:34 PM
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015
Thursday, October 22, 2015
From the Nation:
Following separate lines of evidence and document trails, they’ve reached the same bombshell conclusion: ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.
Global warming denial has been over the years an absolutely fascinating phenomenon to observe. Deniers are so absurd in their rejection of science that they make creationists seem somewhat reasonable--creationists, at least, have something playing the role of an epistemology, however problematic it may be; deniers have nothing, just a bunch of nyets and straw clutching. It's going to be really fun if this scandal takes off.
What will deniers do? Even the freaking oil companies know it's happening. They've known the entire time there's been any public discussion about it, which essentially closes the book on the whole thing. After all, to an enormous extent, this is all about the oil companies. Nonetheless, my best guess is that right-wingers will double down on their denial. That's what they always do. I mean, at this point, that's what they HAVE to do. Otherwise they're totally, utterly, irrevocably humiliated. The biggest chumps in history. Conned like the stupidest rubes at the county fair. That's unbearable to them. They will continue to deny.
Things will get pretty darned weird the further we go with this.
Posted by Ron at 5:27 PM
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
A Norwegian explained what "texas" meant to him in a Reddit discussion earlier this year, writing: “When I think of the word I picture a cowboy crashing a party and shooting two revolvers into the air. ‘It’s completely texas!"
So entrenched is this idiom in Norway that a restaurant called Dolly Dimple's uses "helt texas" to characterize its pizza deals.
Living here as I do, it's easy to forget just how messed up the majority is in Texas. I mean, yeah sure, I know the kind of psychopath inhabiting my home state, but it's just like the air I breathe, all around me, totally normal. But it's not normal. It's malevolently weird. Hyperpatriotism irrationally coupled with pop secessionism, military fetish-worship, deep reverence for the death penalty, bloodthirsty embrace of absolute gun rights, scorn and derision for the poor, racism and sexism run amok, self-righteous stupid fundamentalism, and on and on. Texas is crazy, or, at least, more than half of it is. Just because I'm almost numb to it, though, doesn't make the sinister absurdity of it all go away. It's obvious to everyone who isn't a Texan.
That's why the Norwegians are now using the word "Texas" as an adjective to describe dangerously crazed situations. You know, something along the lines of "That reckless truck driver who just ran over a dog is totally Texas!" I'd be embarrassed, but I kind of think they're onto something.
Posted by Ron at 6:58 PM
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
From NYU's student run Journal of Politics and International Affairs:
Just this week, international headlines have declared that the 12 member nations have come to a final agreement. If passed, the TPP would officially become the largest trade deal in global history.
Amid the discussion of fast-track approval, populist politicians and domestic labor unions began to publicly denounce the TPP. It was argued that the essence of these behind-the-door negotiations denied the public of their right to know what this mega-partnership entailed for the common man. Lobbying, establishment politics, and years of undercover arrangements began to frighten Americans everywhere. The uneasiness, without a doubt, remains well warranted.
Over time, remnants of the trade deal’s content began to become public. Those who condemned the TPP continued to, but this time with the ability to identify its negative externalities.
You know, we can argue about protective tariffs and other impediments to trade. That's a real discussion, one that's actually about trade. But the story with these mega global corporate "trade" deals has been the same since NAFTA. They're not really trade deals. They're investor agreements about "intellectual property rights." And they're definitely anti-sovereignty. I mean, environmental laws are now the same thing as protective tariffs? That's totally absurd. They're just not the same thing.
And the ability to sue to "recoup" this fiction they're calling "future profits" makes me want to alternatively laugh and vomit. It's totally Orwellian mixed with Dr. Seuss. This shit makes the fact that massive corporations run everything totally obvious to anybody who wants to see it.
Posted by Ron at 5:34 PM
Monday, October 19, 2015
From the Houston Chronicle:
Lakewood Church pastor, radio host, and best-selling author Joel Osteen told a major religious news outlet this week that Christians should likely refrain from arguing over religion with those of different faiths.
According to the Christian Post, Osteen says that when it comes to debating the points of Christianity some of his fellow Christians lack respect for differing opinions.
Okay, while I definitely agree to an extent with Osteen's overall point, that some Christians are disrespectful when they argue theology or faith, and, actually, I'll go a step further and say that some Christians are downright full of contempt when they talk about these things, I have to disagree with his solution. That is, it's not the discussion itself that's to be avoided, but rather entering such discussion with a scornful attitude.
I mean, life is confusing. People come to their spirituality from as many different directions as there are people. Faith is a very personal thing, ultimately. When you argue with someone about religion, you are necessarily arguing with his very sense of self. And that must be respected, especially if you want to be heard. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't engage with people on the subject. It just means you should be respectful and compassionate.
For instance, I am very much of the belief that enormous numbers of Christians in the United States just straight up ignore Jesus' second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Sure, all Christians give, at the very least, lip service to the notion of love, but many, in their minds, words, and actions, essentially castrate it with numerous exceptions and caveats. It's, like, sure, I'll love you, but only if you're just like me, otherwise you're bound for hell and to be opposed at all costs.
I will never give up arguing for love. It is the greatest concept in all of Christianity. But I also recognize that it isn't easy to love. It's harder still to love people by whom you feel threatened. It's even harder to love when life has hurt you, and life hurts all of us. You can't just shove love in people's faces and expect them to have an Apostle Paul style conversion. Indeed, that's likely to get the opposite of the reaction for which you're looking, less love and more anger. So you have to be respectful. You have to concede that no one really knows anything for sure.
But it's okay to say, "Hey, you know what? I think I've really got something here that you need to hear, so please just listen a bit, and I'll listen to you, and we can walk away still disagreeing, but we'll both know a bit more about ourselves, each other, and humanity." And you can't do any of that if you refuse to discuss your differences.
Posted by Ron at 6:40 PM
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Whatever it takes, I guess. But really, this is why I've long distrusted Hillary: I don't really think she believed Iraq had WMD, but she voted for the invasion anyway, just to shore up her national security credentials, in order to look more like a "serious person" for her eventual presidential run. I prefer leaders who have actual values, myself, not fake values carefully calculated to win elections.
Posted by Ron at 6:29 PM
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Friday, October 16, 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015
From the Washington Post's Wonkblog:
Raise your hand if you had "Hillary Clinton defends capitalism, and/or criticizes Denmark" in your office pool for the first on-stage debate fight of the Democratic primaries. That's right - you didn't. But Clinton's extolling of the free-market economic system, and her critique of Democratic socialism, was her first open attack on the man closest to her in the polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. It showed an important fault line in this primary campaign.
If the GOP really has betrayed conservatism, as David Brooks wrote in the New York Times a couple of days ago, and they have instead become a party of reactionary destruction and anti-democracy, then where has actual conservatism gone? Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate makes the answer to that agonizingly clear. Traditional political friction mixed with compromise between left and right is now firmly situated within the Democratic Party. That's where normal American politics dwell these days.
Hillary Clinton, who thinks that we can't have better social services because we're not Denmark, or something to that effect, represents normal American conservatism. Bernie Sanders, who thinks Americans ought to lead lives reflecting their nation's economic success, like every other industrialized democracy in the world, of course, represents American liberalism. Left and right in one party. That's where all the sane and relevant political action is found these days. I mean, if the crazies hadn't hijacked the Republican Party the way they have, Bernie versus Hillary is very likely what mainstream politics would look like in this country.
Instead, mainstream American politics is totally incoherent, all because of the Republicans, with the only adult conversation in the room occurring among the Democrats. Needless to say, grownups talking with two year olds who think they're grownups is rarely a coherent conversation. But that's what we've got.
Posted by Ron at 4:40 PM
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
From A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn:
While the men were sent many miles away to the mines, the wives remained to work the soil, forced into the excruciating job of digging and making thousands of hills for cassava plants.
Thus husbands and wives were together only once every eight or ten months and when they met they were so exhausted and depressed on both sides ... they ceased to procreate. As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished, had no milk to nurse them, and for this reason, while I was in Cuba, 7000 children died in three months. Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation.... in this way, husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk . .. and in a short time this land which was so great, so powerful and fertile ... was depopulated. ... My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write. ...When he arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, Las Casas says, "there were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it...."
Here's what I wrote when I posted this on facebook for Columbus Day on Monday:
Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States taught me that Christopher Columbus IMMEDIATELY began murdering and enslaving Indians when he first arrived in America. There is no way to separate his great contributions to Western civilization from his genocidal behavior. He was the great adventurer; he was a heinous killer and slaver. He ushered in the era of history that ultimately led to the nation we are today; he ushered in the era of history that made death and oppression a way of life for white Westerners for centuries. Same guy. And we have to recognize that.'Nuff said.
So sure, celebrate Columbus Day. He did, after all, do some really cool stuff. But never forget the horrible stuff, either. Glossing over historical fact for feel-good reasons is pretty lame--it helps us deny who we are today.
Posted by Ron at 5:13 PM
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
From Talking Points Memo:
An ad attacking Hillary Clinton set to air during Tuesday night's Democratic debate employs images of the four Americans killed in the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, including prominent placement of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ gravestone.
The 30-second TV ad, titled “I’d Like To Ask,” was released by the Stop Hillary PAC online on Monday. Politico reported the ad is scheduled to air during the debate, but did not say how much the group is planning to spend or where it will air.
A House Republican dominated committee investigation has already cleared Hillary of any wrongdoing with Benghazi. This, in turn, meant that the Republicans had to have ANOTHER investigation because they didn't get the result they wanted with the first one.
Meanwhile, Republicans have already admitted to the nation that the entire ongoing Benghazi freakout isn't even about Benghazi, but rather about politically discrediting Hillary so the GOP would have a better shot at winning the White House next year, a waste of millions of tax dollars and a straight up abuse of governmental power. All for the sake of executing some political dirty tricks as lowdown and sleazy as those bogus Planned Parenthood videos.
Bunch of lying scum bags.
But some Republicans think they ought to sink lower still. So they've got this ad, which pushes some lies that we already know are lies, thanks to the aforementioned Republican investigation. No, Hillary did not ignore calls for help. Yes, that anti-Muslim internet video did, in fact, have something to do with the attack. And nobody tried to silence any "whistleblowers." The whole thing is a steaming shit pile of lies.
Stay classy, GOP. You totally suck.
Posted by Ron at 4:25 PM
Monday, October 12, 2015
You might think that there was a defensible economic case for the obsession with cutting taxes on the rich. That is, you might think that if you’d spent the past 20 years in a cave (or a conservative think tank). Otherwise, you’d be aware that tax-cut enthusiasts have a remarkable track record: They’ve been wrong about everything, year after year.
Some readers may remember the forecasts of economic doom back in 1993, when Bill Clinton raised the top tax rate. What happened instead was a sustained boom, surpassing the Reagan years by every measure.
Undaunted, the same people predicted great things as a result of George W. Bush’s tax cuts. What happened instead was a sluggish recovery followed by a catastrophic economic crash.
We've been doing this, cutting taxes for the rich and claiming it will grow the economy, on and off, mostly on, for over thirty years. Economists have had plenty of time to study the effects, which, of course, they've done. So we've understood this for a long time now: throwing money at the rich does nothing but cause deficits and impoverish. Well, okay, it also makes the rich even richer. At everyone else's expense. It's very bad economics. There can be no doubt.
Thus, when Republicans, and often even corporate toady Democrats, of which there are many, suggest that it's good for the economy to cut taxes for the rich, they're either stupid or lying.
Posted by Ron at 5:32 PM
Sunday, October 11, 2015
From Ring of Fire:
Pierson’s company is not in the business of curing disease and easing suffering. It exists to make big money for its shareholders, something that Pearson readily acknowledges: “[If] products are sort of mispriced and there’s an opportunity, we will act appropriately in terms of doing what I assume our shareholders would like us to do.” In “acting appropriately,” Valeant has raised the prices on several drugs this year – in some cases, as much as 800%.
This is a pretty clear and concise explanation why capitalism and the Hippocratic Oath are hopelessly at odds.
I mean, of course, individual capitalists can run their own businesses however they want; in this sense, a doctor can earn money ethically. But the larger a business becomes, the less ability there is to do this, and the more the concerns of business begin to outweigh the ethics of practicing medicine.
Today, the entire field is dominated by such organizations. Corporate medicine. It exists to enrich the wealthy. Not to heal the sick. That's why the ACA, in the long run, isn't much more than a band-aid on a massive malignant tumor. Obamacare will collapse on itself under such conditions.
Socialized medicine is inevitable. The only question to be asked is how many people will have to die before we start doing what we have to do.
Posted by Ron at 8:47 PM
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Friday, October 09, 2015
Thursday, October 08, 2015
From ABC News:
Clinton came out against the trade agreement as it looks today in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, adding “Trade agreements don’t happen in a vacuum. In order for us to have a competitive economy in the global marketplace there are things we need to do here at home that help raise wages. And Republicans have blocked everything President Obama has tried to do on that front. So for the larger issues and then what I know and then again I don’t have the text we don’t have all the details, I don’t believe it is going to meet the high bar I have set.”
I'm pretty sure Hillary would have never, EVER, taken such a position without Bernie Sanders in the race--she is, and has long been, a corporate Democrat. So, in that sense, Bernie is already wildly successful with his presidential bid in that he has definitely changed the conversation, making it much more liberal on economics than it would have been without him.
The times they are a changing. And it's cool.
Posted by Ron at 5:39 PM
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business have found that white people respond to evidence that they are privileged by their race by insisting that they face greater hardships in life.
In a study published in the November issue of Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, L. Taylor Phillips and Brian S. Lowery point out that progress on racial equality is limited by the fact that many whites deny the existence of inequities.
“Despite this reality, policy makers and power brokers continue to debate whether racial privilege even exists and whether to address such inequity,” the researchers noted. “One reason for this inaction might be an unwillingness among Whites to acknowledge racial privilege — acknowledgment that may be difficult given that Whites are motivated to believe that meritocratic systems and personal virtues determine life outcomes.”
This happens like clockwork in my discussion threads about racial injustice. It frustrates the devil out of me, but it does seem to be a fairly common psychological affliction among white people. That means I've got to deal with it. But I'm still at something of a loss about how to do so.
Posted by Ron at 6:07 PM
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
They're kind of a thing on facebook.
Posted by Ron at 4:41 PM
Monday, October 05, 2015
From Talking Points Memo:
What happens when a state with a tough voter ID law suddenly makes it much harder for minorities to get driver's licenses? We are about to find out in Alabama.
Facing a budget crisis, Alabama has shuttered 31 driver's license offices, many of them in counties with a high proportion of black residents. Coming after the state recently put into effect a tougher voter ID law, the closures will cut off access -- particularly for minorities -- to one of the few types of IDs accepted.
According to a tally by AL.com columnist John Archibald, eight of the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters saw their driver's license offices closed.
No, voter ID laws REALLY ARE about keeping black people from voting. They REALLY ARE racist. Telling me anything else is just insulting. I mean, stop lying to my face about this. Just own it. Just be honest. You don't want black people voting. That's what this is about.
Posted by Ron at 6:09 PM
Sunday, October 04, 2015
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
Twenty-six-year-old Chris Harper Mercer opened fire Thursday at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College.
He killed nine people before dying during an exchange of gunfire with officers. It wasn't clear if Mercer was killed by authorities or took his own life.
They're not shooting victims. They're Second Amendment martyrs. The price we have to pay for our "freedom." These deceased college students in Oregon have made yet another noble sacrifice for our nation so that we can all be "free," so that we can all "resist government tyranny," so that we can shoot people who have been carjacked.
All hail the Second Amendment martyrs who keep us "free"!
(Yes, my disgust with this is at an all time high today.)
Posted by Ron at 5:27 PM
Saturday, October 03, 2015
Friday, October 02, 2015
Thursday, October 01, 2015
From Crooks and Liars:
Therefore, this should have come as no surprise to anyone, but because our librul media has the memory of a goat --and I may be being mean to goats-- they just carried on with all the bullshit Benghazi stories and let the likes of Joe Scarborough pick up the reins and run with the smears.
More here, with video.
So it was a fake right-wing freakout from the very beginning, which they usually are, and which discerning observers already knew. Okay, nice to hear a mea culpa on this. But...who's going to tell the rank and file, the grassroots, all the regular guy Republicans out there in flyover territory, WHO ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS LIE, that it was all a scam? Anyone? Anyone?
Does the truth even matter anymore?
Posted by Ron at 5:00 PM