Saturday, July 29, 2017

Democrats: Values vs. Actions

If the Democrats got their actions in sync with their professed values, they would politically dominate most of the U.S. Because they have forgotten that iron rule of politics, they risk fading into oblivion.

And not a soul will morn their passing.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mississippi is on the Verge of Being Screwed by the Republican Health Care Bill

So far, only two Republican senators have announced that they will vote “no” on Trumpcare: Rand Paul and Susan Collins. If they are the only two that vote against it, then the vote in the Senate would be 50–50 and VP Pence would break the tie.

We live in the poorest state in the union. There are a lot of people receiving Obamacare that wouldn’t have coverage otherwise. Now many of those being covered will lose the insurance they got just a short time ago.

An all-male committee drafted the bill in secret and sprang it upon the full Senate (and the nation) to be voted on with no hearings and precious little debate. Medicaid, long hated by Republicans, will be on the way to being gutted. Twenty million people will be unable to afford insurance under the Senate bill, either because they have a preexisting illness or the premiums are too high.

It is a remarkably bad bill, even for Republicans. You would think that Mississippi’s senators and representatives would be sensitive to the needs of a large portion of its citizens, but don’t look for any support from them.

Our two senators, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker seem to be keeping quiet, and it is obvious that neither one of them has the gumption to think for themselves, for they support a law that deprives many Mississippians of the health care they need but will be unable to pay for if the bill passes. The same goes for three of our four representatives. Bennie Thompson, whose district is mainly the Delta, is the only representative that voted against the bill when it was passed by the House.

Mississippi has been politically sick for a long time. Racial prejudice, openly practiced here for hundreds of years, has gone underground, but barely. Whites, in particular, are so determined to keep blacks down, socially and economically, that they are willing for their state to remain at the bottom by almost all measures of welfare.

This reminds me of the Indian monkey trap. Trappers cut a small hole in a coconut just large enough for a monkey to insert his hand. Then they put a nut in the coconut and fix it to the ground. When a monkey encounters the coconut, he thrusts his hand through the hole and grasps the nut, but when he tries to pull his hand out, he finds that he cannot remove his hand while holding the nut. Even when the trapper approaches, the monkey will not let go of the nut and is easily captured.

That’s us, white Mississippians. We are in a racist trap from which we could easily liberate ourselves by simply dropping the nut — those prejudices that trap us. Our senators and representatives have been remiss in not explaining to us how Trumpcare is supposed to improve the health of the citizens of this state, black and white. They have been remiss in not fighting for every penny from the federal government that will improve the lives of our state’s citizens[1].

There is a good reason why the federal government should subsidize states like Mississippi. Without all the help we get, we wouldn’t be able to buy goods from the wealthier states, and their economy would suffer in return. The more prosperous states support the less prosperous through federal taxes so the latter can buy their products. Cut off this recycling process, and Mississippi would end up like Greece, only worse, but that is a subject for another article. [2]

  1. Providing health care to non-citizens (including illegal aliens) is a good idea. No one wants sick people around spreading disease, and that’s exactly what happens when health care is denied to a segment of the population. Look what’s already happening in areas where parents are refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated. With too many unvaccinated children in the population, epidemics can get started.  ↩
  2. For an introduction to the Greek crisis, see this interview or other videos on YouTube with Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece.  ↩

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Climate Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette is a lethal game. A player places one bullet in a chamber of a revolver, cocks the pistol, presses the muzzle to his temple and pulls the trigger. If the revolver has six chambers, the probability of death is precisely one in six. If he uses a ten-chamber revolver, the probability is one in ten.

No sane person presented with an invitation to play Russian Roulette would accept, even if the odds of winning were nine in ten, and even if the potential winnings were substantial. The costs of losing are too great. We face enough risks every day on the highways. There is no point in making our lives even more risky.

Then why do otherwise reasonable people persist in activities that endanger life on earth? It is almost certain that the probability of climate disaster already exceeds one in ten. As the world warms, the probability of calamity will climb continually as long as nothing is being done to curb the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It will eventually become 1.00: certainty.

The media have recently published evidence that BP and Exxon knew several decades ago that carbon dioxide from the burning of petroleum fuels would cause the temperature of the earth to rise. Nevertheless, they hid their discoveries from the world and continued pumping and selling oil as though the risk didn’t exist. The CEOs and boards of directors were not stupid or ignorant. It is fair to say that they knew exactly what was happening, or remained willfully ignorant.

Keeping the danger secret, knowing that greenhouse gases had the potential for doing great harm to the entire planet, constitutes a moral failure of unspeakable proportions. There is something about commanding a large corporation that short-circuits the moral sense of its practitioners. The failure of capitalism is its inability to comprehend its mutual dependence upon society. It is designed to expand indefinitely, even if it destroys society and anything else that might impede that expansion.

The oil industry is not unique. Its forebears did everything in their power to defeat any restraints on their business. It is not hard to remember the worst examples: asbestos, DDT, lead paint, cigarettes, PCBs, thalidomide…the list is endless.

And then there’s always what I call the Hezekiah[1] principle: “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone.” Grab everything you can and leave the problems to the next generation. I’m sadly coming to the conclusion that concern for the distant future is not a part of our mental wiring. On the savannahs of Africa, concern for distant generations was of no help in keeping the individual or the tribe alive. Most threats to survival came either suddenly, like a lion in the bushes, or slowly, like famine or pestilence, disasters over which they had little control. Worrying about what might happen a hundred years in the future was a hindrance when all the brains and muscles available were needed to survive in the present.

Elites, who usually are well-educated, are no better and often worse in this respect than ordinary people because they have power and consequently feel no responsibility for anyone or anything beyond maintaining and increasing their power. Historically, elites usually contribute to and ultimately bring about the downfall of nations and even civilizations by their oppression of the poor and what is left of a middle class. When society starts to fall apart their rapacious avarice drives them to seize anything they can get their hands on, which brings about collapse.

Then the Ostrogoths and Huns march in and the game is over.

The way the world is going now, we do not have to worry so much about the Ostrogoths and Huns, but whether predators and victims alike will be around much longer. Our environment is not delicate; it is we humans who are delicate. Even if global warming cooks us to a crisp, the environment will continue, transformed, but still here. It’s as though it has contracted a fever. But the fever will go away when the next ice age descends upon the planet, and the earth will prepare for new and different forms of life.

  1. Hezekiah (715–686 BCE) was the 13th king of Judah. The biblical story is that he displayed his vast wealth to a visiting Babylonian ambassador and was shortly thereafter confronted by the prophet Isaiah for showing off his wealth. Isaiah told him that because of his sin, his kingdom would be conquered by Babylon, but only after his death. Hezekiah rejoiced that he would be spared. The death and destruction to come would be suffered by his children, not him.  ↩

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hoseman: Did he or didn't he?

According to Greg Palast, investigative reporter, many of the state officials that are claiming to have refused to turn over their voter rolls to Cris Kobach’s committee have already turned over those rolls. Here in Mississippi, it looks like that’s what happened:


“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” responded Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.


In Mississippi, Hosemann turned over the state’s entire voter rolls to Kobach, some 2,092,886 files. Each file includes voter names, last four digits of their social security numbers, voting address, and voting history.

Whenever I have checked Palast out in the past he has come out squeaky clean. My opinion of Hoseman went up when I read that he refused to turn over the rolls. Now, it’s taking a nosedive.

It looks like Hoseman has some ’splainin to do.