Friday, December 28, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

The Year In Review
(stories you may have missed because you were out snorting blow and banging hookers)
1) Along with the alleged fiscal cliff comes a real financial cliff. The farm bill also expires at December 31, and failure to pass a new one will drive dairy prices into the stratosphere.
Good government advocates (like myself) believe the farm bill needs to be all but abolished. There is no reason for corn prices to be subsidized. There is no real reason for dairy prices to be subsidized, either, except for helping families afford milk for their kids. Milk prices could double (probably even higher, given how corn is such an integral part of feed prices) and put a real crimp in working families' budgets.
2) The number of journalists jailed worldwide broke a record this year. In a world where democracy seems to be taking greater root, this is an unhealthy development.
3) The Antarctic is warming three times faster than expected. Hurricane Sandy was just a prelude.
4) 2012 was the worst year on record for mass shootings in the United States.
5) If you were hoping for a breakthrough in Middle East peace next year, don't count on it. Believe it or not, there's a conservative crazier than Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel who could impact the elections next year and win the prime ministership.
6) Crack and blow your mind away with the 100 best photos from space of 2012.
7) Nearly a thousand species have gone extinct since man started exploring the planet in the 17th century. Here's a tribute to them.
8) As healthcare prices have soared over the past ten years, people are taking less and less care of themselves. Exhibit A.
9) This will happen more and more as global temperatures rise and droughts extend: The Mississippi River is closing.
10) Finally, you will own a robot before the decade is out.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Story of the Year

Throughout the year, I've posted my thoughts on the swinging pedulum of politics, and how I believe the swing to the far right has ended and a swing back towards the middle well underway.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is dismissing right-wing calls for David Gregory's indictment as "entirely nonsensical," reflecting the widely-held belief that the investigation involving the "Meet The Press" is not a legitimate use of law enforcement's time.

On last Sunday's program, Gregory displayed what appeared to be a gun magazine while interviewing National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre. Police officials here in Washington, who have launched a probe into the incident, have since confirmed that doing so was a violation of the law, and that NBC News knew as much prior to the show. Gun rights advocates are, for lack of a better term, up in arms.

The Wall Street Journal, defending David Gregory. The mind wobbles.

This year, 2012, has been a watershed year in the rise of liberal politics. It's seen the re-election, on his own merits, of Barack Obama by a coalition of "minorities" (soon to be a majority), youth and women votes. The reasons are many, but they boil down to one: he's trustworthy.

The attempt by Republicans and the right-wing to tear up politics by making the very word so untrustworthy by the average American that they stay away from the polls in droves backfired badly in 2012. The big money infusions of superPACs, big corporations and rich donors like the Koch brothers failed miserably.

Indeed, it failed so badly that the 2010 election must be considered an outlier, albeit a repeatable one in 2014. State houses, gerrymandering, and local governments have been so co-opted by the grifting and bribery of big money that it will be next to impossible to move the House to the middle anytime soon, I'm afraid.

Unless the news cycle overtakes it. And here, too, things bode well for liberals.

From the mildest winter on record early this year to the scorching heat of summer, from the selection of Mitt Romney -- nominally a conservative but someone who's credentials as a rightwinger were highly suspect -- to the election of Barack Obama to a second term, from the uptick in the economy and the lowering of the unemployment rate (not fast enough, but then no Republican has dared propose a jobs program in Congress), even to the tragic slaughter of Americans -- 151 in 2012 alone, and sadly, counting -- in mass shootings, liberal thought and liberal policies have stood the test of time while reactionary conservativism, that black-or-white bastion of immaturity, has lingered and languished and coughed it's death rattle like Torquemada in the monastery at Avila.
Things will only get worse for conervatives, too. The voting bloc that was primarily responsible for Barack Obama's election -- youth, minorities, women -- are all growing, and gaining economic power while the voting bloc that was most dependable for conservatives in 2012 -- older white men -- is dying at an accelerating pace and lost the most in the economic meltdown of 2008 (e.g. wealth in home values).
Their voices fade. Ours grow stronger.
It's a good time to be a liberal.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Only Outlaws Will Have Guns"

WEBSTER – An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people,” police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found.

William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.
Now, here's the thing: Spengler should have been clearly ineligible to have weapons of any kind...after all, we live in a country where if you're an ex-con, you can be purged from voting rolls, even if your debt to society is completely paid.
It seems likely that Spengler, who spent 17 years in prison for bldugeoning his 92 year old grandmother to dead with a hammer, owned these weapons legally. He was off parole in 2006, presumably his "debt" being paid.
This is the world Wayne La Pierre and the fascists who are NRA members want you to live in. You have trouble voting. Felons can carry guns. It looks to me as if the only people who amass these kinds of weapons ARE outlaws, and the mere fact that you own any assault or semi-automatic weaponry ought to make you suspect in any kind of polite society.
Really, who needs a Bushmaster to hunt deer? I know those antlers can be pretty intimidating, but think of it as a giant hat rack and you should be fine shooting with your little Remington rifle. You are in no danger, and it's not like the fight is a fair one anyway.
La Pierre spoke last week of having a registry of the mentally unstable. For my part, he has a seed of that registry if he just lists his membership roles. Any sane person would have quit after his egregious press "conference" and subsequent appearance on Meet The Press Sunday.
But isn't it interesting that he'd rather have a government-compiled list of people's private medical information than a government-compiled list of weapons that will kill someone.