A really interesting article in Slate this morning: http://www.slate.com/...
To summarize, a drug name Truvada appears to have a 99% success rate in preventing AIDS infections when taken daily. Controversy has arisen over its use and benefits, with many AIDS organizations, and such respected figures as Dan Savage, decrying its use on the grounds that it will further discourage safe sex practices and will inevitably not be taken properly, thus attenuating its supposed effectiveness.
The proponents of Proposition 8 in California, showing that there's no loser like a sore loser, are back in court today, trying to halt gay weddings in California via a number of technical arguments. Leaving aside the utter mean-spiritedness of such efforts (which should be no surprise at this point, and indeed are self-evident), Their arguments rely on technical issues of law that are most likely makeweight at best.
I admit to not be familiar enough with these particular technicalities to pass authoritative judgment on them (not my field of law), but I invite anybody better versed in them to flesh out my own analysis.
One of the major shibboleths in the contemporary Republican / Right Wing theology is the myth of the Job Creator. He is, we're told, all wonderful, all powerful, yet at the same time easily offended. He may decline to do his appointed and unique task of creating jobs for the rest of us mere mortals to toil away in, unless he is constantly placated, fed, coddloed, given special breaks and incentives to do his work. He is easily offended by anything that might bother his delicate sensiobility, and thus dissuaded from his labors. We must giive him anything he desires lest he not create jobs. In short, he holds power of life, death, and regular pay (however meagre) over our society, and we must bow to his wishes or starve.
(I'll ignore the offensive feudalistic implications of this paradigm here - whole diaries could be written on that, and the mindset it represents, alone - and focus on the economic aspects.)
This myth is the ultimate distillation of the trickle-down economic theory that has gripped the country since the days of Ronald Reagan and Arthur Laffer. Give the wealthy, and the wealthy corporations, more income (and power - the two are of course inextricably linked), and they will act to create jobs and wealth that will inevitably trickle down to the average Joe, making his life happier. That belief is such entrenched dogma in current Republican circles that even the least faltering in shouting it to the skies at every possible opportunity makes one essentially unelectable (in a Republican primary, at least).
It's also exactly what I initially termed it - a myth, unsupported by any economic theory or (far more importantly) any historical experience. The history of the United States since 1980 is the long dreary enacting of the failure of trickle down theory when put into practice. Yet the concept retains currency, and partially because it's easily precis'ed. It's snappy, memorable, and graphic. Progressive economics (that is to say, almost all rational economic theory and history), are by contrast muddled and hard to explain or grasp. The Right relies on that conplexity to reduce progressive economics to a caricature of pointy headed professors and bureaucrats diddling around with other people's money without a care for the plight of the average American, interested only in their own aggrandizement.
We need to do better. And here I'll modestly propose an alternative vision.
My two daughters visited me this afternoon for our portion of Christmas, the elder with her husband of three years. When we sat down for the ritual gift exchange, she handed me a small lumpy package, with a smile. I was, not surprisingly, slightly confused and a bit more taken aback, but I dutifully opened it anyway. It contained a pair of baby socks.
So now I'm going to be a grandfather.
Oh. My. God.
The recent discovery by those sleuths at Fox News that the new Muppet movie was in fact little more than a disgusting anticapitalistic liberal screed got me thinking (for which I deeply apologize). This is certainly not the first time that Hollywood has been accused of trying to warp the minds of our young with filthy liberal bilge that will make them hate their local oligarch. But, I started to wonder, how deep does this go, and how far back? (I obviously need a better hobby, but that's another story). What follows can hardly be regarded as complete or authoritative, but I believe it demonstrates the insidious power those awful liberal Hollywood types have wielded over our impressionable youngsters over the years, part of a leftist plot to poison our kids against everything that's good and American - things like greed, exploitation of anyone you can use, amorality and a haughty disdain for those less fortunate than you. Because, after all, being less fortunate is a sign of inferiority, right?
Someone in a political argument today stated that Obama's budget this past year was voted down by the Senate by a 98 - 0 count, proving that he doesn't even have contrrol over his own party. I freely admit I lack any recollection of this vote, which strikes me at first blush as a purely tactical maneuver on the part of all concerned. A search here revealed nothing to help me out with context, and the web overall is of even less help - the vote seems to be a favorite shibboleth of the Right. Any context or clarifying info anyone can give me on this would be greatly appreciated. Sorry to be so ignorant.
. . . that Hank Williams Jr. really can't carry off the whole weird cowboy hat and beard with sunglesses thing nearly as well as Randy "Macho Man" Savage did? Randy also was more intelligible than Hank (which is actually kind of frightening, given some of Randy's "interviews" on the old WWF shows).
I'm just sayin' . . . . maybe Hank needs a new look. Any suggestions?
[Sorry, couldn't resist - and if anybody can plug in a picture of the Macho Man (my skills are so poor I won't even try), please do.]
One of the fun things about living in Orange County (aside from the Ayn Rand hallucinations of the Orange County Register) is the assorted nut jobs that seem to pop up here all the time. This is the land of Orly Taitz, of Marilyn Davenport (the local Republican committeewoman who sent around the cartoon of Obama's parents as apes), and of course the gone but not forgotten craziness of Bob Dornan.
I hate to give notoriety to manifest idiots, but we have another name to add to the county's Hall of Shame. A San Juan Capistrano city councilman has named his dog Muhammed, supposedly as a lesson in free speech for his kids - but, of course, also publicizing it in the process.
As we watch in wonder (and with cheering) at the latest downfall of a tyrant in the Arab world, we need to stop a moment and have a little appreciation for the delicate minuet the United States - and specifically the President - has again played in the process. Conducting diplomacy in a fluid situation is never easy, and adding the confluence of conflicting realpolitick and idealistic interests (a conflict perhaps unique to American diplomacy) makes that task even harder. Many have sniped at the Administration during the Libyan revolution, from both sides. Yhe Republican sniping is, of course predictable - if the President made a speech praising the sunrise, the Republicans would note that he spoke kindly about an event in the East - you know, where Mecca is (hint hint). But those on the Left who made equally predictable predictions about mission creep and coming morasses also need to bite their tongues a little bit today. The President beat 'em all.
This weekend's events, and their coinciding with the anniversary of Stonewall, are an emotional time for any gay, bisexual, or trans person. New York's adoption of gay marriage, and its embrace of true equal rights, is a clarion call to us all. It's also an occasion for self examination, confession, and new resolve. This is a long read, for which I apologize, but then I have a lot to tell. I'm even egotistical enough to think it might help sonebody, at least in an admonitory way.
I've always been a closet case. Partly that's been out of fear, partly it's been out of confusion (since I've also been atrracted to women). At 57, I've seen the entire course of the gay rights movement in my sentient lifetime, and I'm happy for (and a little envious of) those who are young now or will come after, who will have their paths to their true selves so much easier laid than I and my elders did. My path in particular has been filled with mistakes, self-hatred, denial, and temporixing. I write in the hope that I can keep at least a few other people from making the same mistakes.
Rand Paul's rejection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964's provisions prohibiting privately owned "public accommodations" from refusing service on the basis of race etc. should come as no surprise.
Nor does such a position mean that Paul is a racist - per se, at any rate. No, the problem with Paul's position is different, subtler, and if anything more worrisome to our society and system of government.
Labelling Paul as racist is easy. Advocating for people being able to put out "No Blacks Allowed" signs on their restaurant doors is such a toxic position that he's been trying to walk his comments back ever since they became public - without, of course, completely abdicating his philisophical position