Archive for September 8th, 2011
Here’s what happens when an ideologue politician like Paul Ryan avoids answering hard questions out in the public. When you threaten well-established social safety net programs, the program beneficiaries are quite willing to pay $15 to actually get a little face time with you, even if it means they will be arrested. When you don’t hear them out, they will get annoying and disruptive. They know that when you are not inviting real criticism, the people in the audience are hearing what amounts to propaganda, which is not a meaningful political process.
The test of a true leader is one who is willing to take serious inconvenient criticism to heart.
The hypocrisy is pointed out by The Young Turks:
The wildfires threatening Dunkerley and her neighbors are being met by an inadequately funded response team. Back in May, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed a budget presented by the state legislature that cut funding for the state agency in charge of combating such blazes. The Texas Forest Service’s funding was sliced from $117.7 million to $83 million. More devastating cuts hit the assistance grants to volunteer fire departments around the state. Those grants were slashed 55 percent from $30 million per year in 2010 and 2011 to $13.5 million per year in 2012 and 2013. Those cuts are effective now.
Apparently, the “free market” isn’t enough to fight these fires. “Perry has now asked President Obama for a disaster declaration which, if granted, would help the state by paying for 75% of the firefighting costs.
Rick Perry has vilified “government.” He thinks that good things will simply happen, despite the lack of government organization and funding. This is a position contradicted by ubiquitous evidence, including the fires now raging around Rick Perry. His free market fundamentalism, bereft of evidence, is a dangerous religious belief.
To be clear, I’m not advocating big government, per se. I understand Rick Perry’s concern about large-scale government reallocation schemes, but the answer is not to completely dismantle government. I’m advocating smart government. We should reallocate tax money we are currently wasting (e.g., much of the military budget, corn ethanol, propping up too-big-to-fail-megabanks) and we should put it into things that really work to benefit the citizens and strengthen the economy (e.g., energy conservation, sustainable energy and early childhood education).
While Barack Obama gave yet another pretty speech, Matt Taibbi decided to tune out. Here’s why:
I remember following Obama on the campaign trail and hearing all sorts of promises before union-heavy crowds. He said he would raise the minimum wage every year; he said he would fight free-trade agreements. He also talked about repealing the Bush tax cuts and ending tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.
It’s not just that he hasn’t done those things. The more important thing is that the people he’s surrounded himself with are not labor people, but stooges from Wall Street. Barack Obama has as his chief of staff a former top-ranking executive from one of the most grossly corrupt mega-companies on earth, JP Morgan Chase. He sees Bill Daley in his own office every day, yet when it comes time to talk abut labor issues, he has to go out and make selected visits twice a year or whatever to the Richard Trumkas of the world.
Listening to Obama talk about jobs and shared prosperity yesterday reminded me that we are back in campaign mode and Barack Obama has started doing again what he does best – play the part of a progressive. He’s good at it.
Looking through the offerings at Reddit.com tonight, I noticed a headline suggesting that Dr. Kellogg developed corn flakes as a remedy for masturbation, which he considered to be a great threat to law and order. I hadn’t heard this claim before I viewed this documentary by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame), but it’s true. I’ll never think of corn flakes the same way again.
And I now have it on my list to watch the entire documentary by Terry Jones: “The Surprising History of Sex and Love” (2002). It looks like it was especially well written and produced.
Everyone knows that table salt is sodium chloride, but many people don’t know about the explosive power of metallic sodium. Back in high school chemistry lab, when the teacher wasn’t around, some of my fellow students and I sometimes flipped a tiny chip of metallic sodium into a bowl or water. The sodium would spin in flames and burn out as it is converted to corrosive sodium hydroxide. This unusual video demonstrates what happens when you throw a huge roll of sodium in to a lake.