Monday, September 29, 2014

Why the Moment of Truth is Coming for Red States that Rejected Obamacare

by Nomad

As more and more reports come in about the benefits of Obamacare, governors of Red States, some analysts predict, are soon going to feel the heat from the miffed voters.

Few could call Forbes a flagship of the liberal press so when it posts a negative article against conservative policy, it must send a few night-terrors into the sleep of Republicans.

Good News and Bad Tidings
Last week, for conservatives, Forbes was the bearer of bad tidings. Obamacare isn't so bad after all. and as the article says, for the governors of red states who had once been so quick to reject the Medicare expansion, things are going to get a little worrisome.
A new report showing the continued pileup of unpaid medical bills in states that didn’t expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is escalating criticism on these Republican-led areas of the country to expand the health insurance program for the poor.
True, the report did come from the Obama administration who- conservatives would say- would have every reason to paint a rosy picture. Yet, sooner or later, the facts will spill out one way or the other. And the Obama administration's figures were bound to come under close scrutiny. 

Moreover, the figures from other sources are all pointing in the same direction. In spite of its rocky kickoff, Obamacare hasn't been the predicted disaster. The fears of socialized medicine, promoted by the likes of Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, Betsey McCaughey, and last and not least, Rush Limbaugh were unfounded, especially when compared to the benefits to Americans. (They are still peddling their malicious nonsense, unchallenged by the media.)
The fear-mongering of "death panels" was well-financed, well-promoted poppycock for the low-information, hate-driven voter or the perpetually gullible.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why the Turkish Lifting of Head Scarf Ban and New Student Dress Code Has Secularists Shuddering

by Nomad

Turkey's long-standing headscarf ban has been the bane of conservative religious groups for years. The ruling party has just issued a new dress code for public school students which will finally see the end of the ban.
Here's why a lot of people aren't very happy about the new dress policy. 

To understand the news about Turkey's headscarf controversy, it is helpful to realize how important symbolism can be. Especially the religious kind.

Back in the 1920s, when Mustafa Kemal established the modern Turkish Republic from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, he was determined to break with the theocratic tendencies of the past. 
The so-called "Father of the Turks" believed the excessive influence of religion in all aspects of life, but especially in politics and in state affairs had led only to backwardness. Secularism, Kemal believed, was the solution.

In his effort to set up a secular forward-thinking republic, he banned most of the articles of religious symbolism, like the wearing of the fez and beards for men and the Islam-mandated covering for the women. In all public buildings and government schools, fezzes and headscarves were formally banned. 
(If that sounds incredible or high-handed, remember this is a man who changed the Turkish alphabet from Arabic script to Latin letters practically overnight.) Until the religious-based AKP party took the reins of government, that ban had gone unchallenged.

The Headscarf Cultural War
Like all government workers, public school teachers and students were forbidden to wear headscarves in school. In the private sector had for the most part followed suit with its employees.

For religious conservatives this headscarf ban has long been a thorn in the side. They have successfully defeated the ban. And they couldn't have done it without the help of Europe.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Price of Apathy

by Nomad

The mid-term elections that put the Tea Party in Congress was real-life demonstration of Plato's observation. The question is whether American voters are still as apathetic as they were then. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Food Caravans: Why Birmingham Alabama is Putting Produce Markets on Wheels

by Nomad

The city of Birmingham, Alabama is trying out an urban project to bring healthy food to neighborhoods in need. 

In past blog posts we have taken a look at the problem of "food deserts." Where deserts are places with limited water or limited access to whatever water is there, food deserts are  areas where residents may not have access to affordable and healthy food options. 
That's particularly true when it comes to the healthy alternatives (fresh fruit and vegetables).   
According to a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, about 2.3 million people (or 2.2 percent of all US households) live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car.
There's no mistaking it. The problem cuts down racial and class lines. Food deserts can be most generally found in communities of color and low-income areas (where many people don't have cars). 

In contrast, wealthier parts of town, studies tell us, have three times as many supermarkets as poor areas. And white neighborhoods have on average up to four times as many supermarkets as black neighborhoods. To make matters worse, grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection. 
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that in some poorer sections of urban America,  it could be easier to buy illegal drugs than to find a healthy meal for a family.
So, that's the problem, but what are the solutions?  

Birmingham's Bright Idea
Well, the city of Birmingham, Alabama has approved of a innovative plan to bring the food to those who most need it. 
The board of supervisors for the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) has approved of the city's plan to create so-called "mobile food markets." 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Politics of Donald Trump: Where Ignorance and Arrogance Collide

by Nomad

The other day, Donald Trump accidentally revealed his shocking ignorance of the US political system. It shouldn't have surprised anybody.

Despite all of Trump's self-aggrandizing boasts, the real question is why anybody in their right mind would take his advice about anything.

Whom Trump Really Loves

When mogul Donald Trump endorses his favorite politician it must be a very a mixed blessing and a dubious honor to be the object of his affection. If Mr.Trump loves anybody in this world (and that's iffy) it is only Donald Trump. A Trump endorsement serves only one purpose: to attract much more attention to Trump. 

In the case of Senator Mitch McConnell, Trump managed to turn the benefit of a high profile endorsement into just another case of Trump making a jackass of himself before the whole dang world. 

Trump's obvious attempt to slag McConnell's challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, spectacularly backfired the other day. Trump tweeted:

Unfortunately, for Trump (and the rest of the nation) McConnell is a Senator, not a Congressman, as Trump seems to think. Somebody should have told Trump that Congress is composed of two houses of Congress and .. oh, never mind, Trump would have probably nodded his frizzy uncooperative head, blinked back and fired an unpaid intern.

The problem is that it's so much harder to blame your underlings when you have tweeted something awfully dumb like this. (Rick Perry just said his stupid tweet was "unauthorized" and left it to our imaginations.)

What kind of excuse can he make for his obvious ignorance about the fundamentals of US politics? On the other hand, Trump has never let stupid mistakes or dumb remarks (or bad hair days) stop him plowing on towards the next dumb thing.   

Trump loves to dole out sage advice. It makes him seem important. He thinks. Mr. Trump spends all day thinking up precious gems like this:
Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.
In fact, this could be perfect advice to give Senator McConnell. 

Being a winner is something that Trump pretends to know all about but in fact, his record isn't particularly impressive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Romney Connection: Why Marriott Fired a Candidate Worker

by Nomad

A Florida case poses the question: What happens when the First Amendment rights of an employee comes into conflict with the corporate free speech guaranteed by the Citizens United decision?

Is it legal for an employer to fire  workers who campaign against their corporate-supported candidate?

Raw Story has a story about a Democratic candidate running for Osceola County Commission who was fired for attempting to unseat the candidate her company supports. Viviana Janer's employer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide reportedly gave her the choice of either quitting her campaign or losing her job of 11 years.
Janer told reporters:
“After a decade of accolades and promotions, I was told my job would be abruptly terminated if I did not drop out of the race. Despite my wish to continue working, I felt I could not turn my back on the many citizens of Osceola County who worked so hard to get me elected. I refused to drop out of the race, and on Friday I was fired from a job I loved.”
According to the termination letter from Senior Vice President and Chief Audit Executive Julie Meyer, Janer was fired because she had not received permission to run for office. 
However, as Janer pointed out, company policy actually encourages political involvement in general.  
Here's how the employee guidelines read:
Marriott Vacations Worldwide encourages your personal participation in elections and government processes. However, you must conduct your personal political activities on your own time and without use of the company’s resources (e.g., stationery, copying machines, or office supplies).

A Special Message from The Caped Crusader

by Nomad

Once upon a time, these are the ideas that children grew up with. Yeah, it was a form of brainwashing, I suppose. But there are worse things to teach children.

Back in the 1960s, children were taught that if it wasn't always true or always true for all people then it was at least a goal for a proud and  respectable nation.

I wonder what values are being instilled in children today?  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hypocrites in the Spotlight- Dr. Ben Carson

by Nomad

GOP Ben Carson Family Welfare Hypocrite

I admit that I cannot verify everything on this meme, but there are plenty of good links out there (and here) that confirm enough of his background to rate him as a first-class hypocrite. 

That's not to say he is not an excellent doctor but as a public figure, he is way-way-way out of his depth. This is a man who with a straight face compared Obamacare to slavery. (That's right, the whipping and chaining institution that considered men with black skin to be little better than animals or a commodity to be exploited.)

Carson also equated homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality. and declared white liberals to be “the most racist people there are”. (That was, no doubt, a crowd pleaser for his conservatives audiences.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bust: How the Republicans Lost the War on Drugs 1/5

by Nomad

Starting with President Nixon, the War on Drugs has been a series of costly mistakes. Sadly, most of the misjudgements might have been avoided if only officials had listened to the experts and to the people most affected.

Part 1. Nixon, Drugs and the Hippie Removal Scheme

Nixon and the Mandate of the Silent Majority 
To understand what went wrong with America's War on Drugs, we have to go back to the days of President Nixon and the time before Watergate. In this turbulent moment in US history, there was a fundamental difference of opinions about the causes of the upheaval in the 60s.
Taking a look at the nation in turmoil at colleges and universities, President Richard Nixon not long after taking office, said:
It's not too strong a statement to declare that this is the way civilizations begin to die... The process is altogether to familiar to those who would survey the wreckage of history. assault and counterassault, one extreme leading to the opposite extreme; the voices of reason and calm discredited.
(As it turned out, it was a oddly accurate assessment and it is even more true today than then.) 
At the time many people, especially conservatives, considered the liberal policies of the 1960s, particularly, domestic programs of the Great Society, to be a failure. The Supreme Court decisions, on abortion and civil rights, combined with liberal idealism had opened a Pandora's box. That was what a lot of middle class people across the country genuinely believed.   

The rebellious counter-culture, which included the hippies, the yippies, the anti-war protesters, the bra burners, the liberationists, the anarchists, the Communists,  was fueled not by resentment or by anger at injustice. Drugs had to be behind it all. What else could make kids from well-off backgrounds, drop out of society, throw away all of the material advantages and live like gypsies? What else could make them so wild and violent?
That view was both widespread and often propagated by the mainstream news media. The conventional wisdom said that the widespread use of illegal drugs was just another example of the general breakdown of law and order.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Never Waste Your Time....

by Nomad

I wish I had read this years ago. I'd be a lot younger.

Monday, September 15, 2014

George Frisbie Hoar, Dick Cheney and the Lessons of Unlearned History

by Nomad

Few Americans have heard of George Frisbie Hoar. This is the story of a man who, after seeing most of his country's history first-hand, had the courage to denounce its imperial aspirations. He represents, in other words, the opposite of another familiar politician of our time.

Remembering The Words, the Things He Did

On the summery Friday afternoon of June 26th, 1908, crowds gathered together in front of Worcester City Hall. Massachusetts. As if to remind everyone there that an era was passing, only a few days, the former president Grover Cleveland had died. Thoughts were therefore already on the mortality of famous men and their memorials.

The attendees had come to dedicate a statute in honor of a locally-beloved political figure who had died four years earlier. The man's name was George Frisbie Hoara man who had been called a "crusader for  the rescue of free thought in a free land."

The dedication ceremony commenced with a prayer by the Unitarian minister, Edward Everett Hale. The crowds fell into a respectful silence. "Father of life, Father of love" Hale said, "we thank Thee for him. We thank Thee for his life."  
Father, we renew our vows and promises and hopes and petitions, that we may repeat his life, in remembering the words that he taught us — in remembering the things that he did. We cannot thank Thee in words for what he did for his State and for his Country.
It was, sadly, a promise not kept and outside of that memorial, few people today have ever heard of this Republican New Englander. Admittedly, it's not a name most people today would recognize. For that reason, that memorial statute may seem as remote and as mysterious as Stonehenge.
Sad because this is a man with so much to tell us now.

His most famous speech was a condemnation of the imperialist approach to and the subjugation of the Philippines Islands. To understand that speech's importance to our time, it's essential to understand the parallels of two eras separated by a century.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

America's War on Illegal Drugs: The Shocking Scope of the Failure

by Nomad

If the War on Drugs has been a failure, it's time to ask what exactly went wrong. That's a question we will be taking a closer look at next week.
Firstly, in this post, we will look at the scale of the problem.

The noted economist, Milton Friedman, once remarked:
I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.
Of course, Friedman ignores the very serious consequences of drug addiction, such as wasted lives and destroyed families, the increase in crime and poverty. and generations of young people who might have contributed to society being turned into veritable zombies. Doing nothing, no matter what Uncle Milt might thing is not an viable option. In that light, Friedman's notions strikes one as being cold and pitiless.  

Still there is a tiny kernel of truth buried in the idea.   

If wars are ever moral in any sense, the War on Drugs was depicted in its opening salvos, as a battle of good against the evils of addiction. In fighting this particular war, however, one of the problems was understanding exactly who the enemy was and who were its victims.

Of course, it was clear something had to be done. However, at some point after President Nixon officially kicked off the War on Drugs in 1971, the anti-drug policy jumped the tracks and then coasted along with nobody at the wheel.

Today  after four decades of fighting, the drug war has, at least according to one source,  cost the taxpayers over $1 trillion dollars. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Virginia Town that Brought the Wounded Soldiers Back Home

by Nomad

This may not be a big story but it's worth telling. When the residents of one Virginia town heard the call for help, they didn't think twice.
For two dozen injured soldiers, the symbolism of the moment must have meant a lot.

Something kind of special happened the other day when the town of Colonial Beach, Virginia (population 3,542) decided to honor 24 injured soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
A local radio DJ who goes by the name of  Ripley was the prime mover behind the idea of throwing a "Welcome Home Celebration" for injured servicemen, women, their caretakers and guests. The Yellow Ribbon Fund, an organization hich supports injured vets and their families, also pitched in.  
Ripley explained:
"After speaking with two of our station advertisers, one a restaurant and the other a Harley-Davidson Dealer, they threw their entire support for this event,"
Despite a lot of logistical planning, the unexpected happened. On the way to the ceremony, the bus carrying the wounded servicemen broke down on Route 205 just inside the Westmoreland County line.
What might have been a big disappointment for the soldiers and their families was suddenly turned around by the swift response of the townspeople. 

According to an article in The Journal, residents of the town arrived in a envoy of cars, vans and SUVs to rescue the two dozen stranded servicemen. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Voter ID Laws in Texas and a Surprising Fact about Black Voter Turnout

by Nomad

No wonder there has been such a strong push of policies like Voter ID laws. 

Back in 2012, writer Jonathan Chait, in a New York magazine article entitled "2012 or Never," noted the phenomena of the incredible shrinking white electorate:
"Every year the nonwhite proportion of the electorate grows by about half a percentage point -- meaning that in every presidential election, the minority share of the vote increases by 2 percent, a huge amount in a closely divided country."
He adds:
"By 2020 nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, "nonwhites will outnumber whites."
In controversial ruling, a federal judge struck down Wisconsin's Voter ID law. This requirement had, said U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, a “disproportionate impact” on African American and Latino voters. 

According to a Washington Post article, eight states, mostly in the South, have similar laws as the Wisconsin law. And 31 states have voter ID laws, of one kind or another. Stricter requirement are scheduled to come into effect in the future. 

A few days ago, the spotlight turned to Texas, In Corpus Christi, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will review a challenge to the state's laws from both U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups. 
The Republican-dominated Legislature in 2011 passed a strict Voter ID law which, for some people, made it easier to by a hand gun than to vote. Hundreds of thousands of Texan voters will be affected. The target? Students, minorities, the poor and the elderly- anybody who may not possess the proper ID required by law.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Real Story about Gov. Jindal's Attack on the Hyphenated American

by Nomad

Governor Bobby Jindal recently raised a few eyebrows with some of his ideas on minorities. Some said that he was implying that ethnic minorities could make everyone a lot happier if they gave up their hyphens and became Americans. Full stop. 

However, many on the Left seem to have missed what the true purpose behind the remarks.

Recently in an op-ed piece for Politico, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal gave his ideas on the dangers of excessive emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism. The liberal press quickly jumped on Jindal's remarks, interpreting them as his desire for all minorities to be white as Wonder Bread. It was a bit unfair since he isn't actually saying that. 
In fact, his words deserve a little more attention..rather than a hasty dismissal. If only to understand more fully why the ideas he expressed were so wrong.

The Threat of the Hyphen
In the article, Jindal offers a few interesting points, though most on the left would find hard to agree with. He says, for example, that minorities should pay less attention to their separateness and just try harder to become like the rest of us: American. He writes that today "we seem to act as if that melting pot is passé, an antiquated notion."

Yet we still place far too much emphasis on our “separateness,” our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few.
Jindal also leaves out a very important minority in his list. Jewish-Americans? It is an understandable omission for a Republican. Let's see Jindal speaking before B'nai B'rith, telling the Jewish audience that they need to drop their Jewish heritage and see what happens. They would, with justification, be outraged. Still, it would be a lovely way for Bobby Jindal to immolate his political aspirations.

Incidentally the term "melting pot" was coined by Israel Zangwill, a child of Jewish immigrants from Czarist Russia. Although he, like Jindal, felt all races and cultures could come together to make the American identity, he was also an early Zionist, an proponent for the creation of a state for Jews and for Jews alone. 
So even he, like Jindal, had some contradictory ideas.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Quoting Exodus: Religious Liberty, Incitement and the Free Speech Hypocrisy

by Nomad

Two seemingly-unrelated situations involving free speech, come together in this post to expose America's first amendment hypocrisy.
Most of us know that free speech is not absolute. But why should some forms of free speech be restricted except when it comes from religious leaders? Why only Christian leaders? Why is hate speech allowed to hide behind the shield of religious liberty?

Often you'll see news stories and you think, there has to be more to this. If you take it a face value then the whole thing is just too stupid / ridiculous / scary to be believed. Or, at least, you don't want to believe it could happen in the US. Here's an example of what I mean.

The Evans Case
According to a local news channel, a 31-year-old Muhlenberg County, Kentucky man posted heavy metal song lyrics on his Facebook account on August 24th and three days later, James Evans was charged with "terroristic threatening.”

On Wednesday last week Evans was finally released on bail after spending a full eight days in jail. He has been told the case would be deferred for six months and he would have to undergo a mental evaluation.
The article quotes Mike Drake, the Muhlenberg County school resource officer, explaining that multiple agencies received calls concerned about the post. Other than that, the county attorney and the school resource officer for the Muhlenberg county schools have declined to comment about the Evans case.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Starkville Enclave: How a Mississippi Town is Defying Failed GOP Policy

by Nomad

When it comes to searching for good news, Mississippi is probably the last place anybody would think to look. Mississippi has been called- for so many reasons- America's Third World.
However, even in failed state, there are pockets of positive news. You just have to know where to look.

The Showcase of Conservative Policy in Action
Nobody will argue with one thing about Mississippi. The Magnolia State is probably the most conservative state in the country. For decades now it is and has been almost totally under the near absolute control of Republican, from the governor to the chamber of the state legislatures. It is the closet thing America has to a one-party system.

And like a lot of one-party nations, the results are appalling. 
Mississippi should have been a conservative showcase.,, if Republican policy actually worked It should have been the one place where conservatives could have held as a model of success  in order to exalt their brand. 
Yet, of  all of the states, Mississippi is a testament to the failure of conservative policy. 
Need evidence?

In general, the South has long been crippled by the sort of poverty that is handed down from generation to generation. Nine of the top 10 poorest states are found in the South. Some have tried to make the case that the South has never recovered from the Civil War. 

That's possible, but then that was an awfully long ago. Europe was rebuilt in less than a generation, Japan and Russia were both devastated following a war but quickly managed to rise from the ashes. Besides, as every  narrow minded conservative would tell you, you shouldn't constantly blame the past for the present lack of initiative, right? Whose fault is it if you haven't become a success? Right? (Wasn't it conservative Michele Bachmann who said that all cultures were not equal? She wasn't talking about the Southern culture. of course.) 

But, even by the South's own low standards, the situation in Mississippi is a cryin' shame.

Economically of all states, Mississippi  comes in dead last in terms of per capita income. The primary reasons are pretty basic, a lack of  secure employment, decent wages, and healthcare.  

Poorest Area of the Poorest State
The Mississippi Delta region is the poorest area of the poorest state and it is the kind of poverty that should have compassionate legislators working overtime. Unfortunately not so in Mississippi.

Christopher Masingill, joint head of the Delta Regional Authority, a development agency. puts it this way: “You can’t out-poor the Delta." Masingill points out that the people of the Mississippi Delta have a lower life expectancy than in Tanzania; other areas do not yet have proper sanitation. 
And like a Third World, the people of the region have given up hope and many are concentrating their efforts not in building but leaving. 

Since 1940, the region’s population has fallen by almost half. Ask any Third Worlder why they risk (and often losing) their lives coming to Europe or America. It will be the same as answer from those leaving the Delta. It's hopeless to keep trying where there is no opportunity. The system has been built to keep people down.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nomadic Politics Exclusive: Governor Rick Perry To Release CD of Greatest Hits

by Nomad

In order to help cover his legal expenses following grand jury indictments, Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced plans to release a double CD of country hits. 
"What a great idea!" said Texas Republican strategist (who wished not be identified). "It's time the governor gave the people of Texas something pleasant to listen to."

Outside his close friends, most people are unaware of that Perry has been an amateur country singer and guitarist for decades. Some have even suggested this side of Perry could be the start of a whole new career. 
"I think he's going to do as well as a singer as he did as a governor" said an unnamed loyal supporter. 

According to Jackson Jihl, executive producer for GoodHare Music out of Austin, the playlist will include a mix of cover versions  of such country standards as:

  • "Release Me"
  • "Hello Walls"
  • "You Don't Even Know Who I Am"
  • "Folsom Prison Blues"
  • "You Won't Ever Be Lonely"
  • "It's Just a Matter of Time"
  • "Suspicious Minds"
  • "I Fall To Pieces"
In addition, Governor Perry plans to offer some his personal takes on familiar Country hits like

  • "I Was Corrupt When Corrupt Wasn't Cool"
  • (Feels like)"I've Got A Tiger On My Tail"
  • "(For Two Cigs and some Hooch) I'd Love To Lay You Down"
  • "Four Walls (and a few Steel Bars)"
  • "You're the Reason God Made Prisons"
  •  "(I'm Gonna Miss) Wide Open Spaces" 
  • "My Woman, My Woman, My Cell Mate, Pablo"
  • "Loathsome On'ry and Mean" 
  • "If You've Got The Proof, I'll Do The Time"
  • "Sleeping Double in a Single Bed"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Here's Why You Shouldn't be Listening to Anything Rand Paul Says

by Nomad

Senator Rand Paul says a lot of things. Some of the things he has said might sound quite reasonable, or at least quotable to some people.
Some other things that he has uttered should perhaps be seen as a warning to the wise.

Back a few years ago, when Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky was talking with University of Louisville medical students,  he was asked if he had any good advice about an upcoming comprehensive exam. It was an easy chance to wow the easily-wowed crowd with a sample of Rand's wit. 
What he said, however, gives us a very clear insight into the character of the Senator from Kentucky.

He told the impressionable minds that on exams he never cheated. He didn't condone cheating he said. Then he added:
But I would sometimes spread misinformation. This is a great tactic. Misinformation can be very important."
He went on to describe studying for a pathology test with friends in the library. "We spread the rumor that we knew what was on the test and it was definitely going to be all about the liver," he said. "We tried to trick all of our competing students into over-studying for the liver" and not studying much else.
"So, that's my advice," he concluded. "Misinformation works."
It's an interesting (and somewhat disturbing) peek into the Paul sense of ethics. Cheating is, in Paul's mind, more disreputable than spreading false information. A unique position to say the least.

A Breakdown of Rand's Rationalization
Most people however, would categorize spreading misinformation as, no matter how it is rationalized, lying. When you spread misinformation (as opposed to mere gossip) you are actively aware that the information is untrue
So, we can assume that lying, in Rand Paul's eyes, is okay. It is not only acceptable,  it is something to boast about to a younger generation.

In any case, Paul's distinction between the two is absurd. To cheat means to spread misinformation about one's abilities or knowledge or qualities of character. If I cheat on an exam, I am spreading the untrue proof that my knowledge is greater than what it actually is.
And if a cheating husband tells his wife, "Yes, dear, I cheated on you. But- wait!- I never lied to you!" most women would have the good common sense to throw whatever is close at hand.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Abe Lincoln vs. The White Man's Sense of Entitlement

by Nomad

I stumbled across this Lincoln quote in the archives and I was stunned that I hadn't heard anything like it before. I have no doubt it is authentic since the source was a book published well over a hundred years ago. I thought it deserved a meme of its own so that it might reach a wider audience. 

Doesn't this seem so very appropriate for our day and age? I just hope that we can take courage and take up the fight that our forefathers began. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why the Growth of Temp Worker Industry is a Serious Problem for Millions of Americans

by Nomad

California legislators have finally taken steps to tackle a serious labor problem that has held low income workers back from finding long term employment. The often exploitative practice of hiring outsourced temporary staff in place of employees may now- finally- be coming under closer scrutiny.

For decades now, one closely-held secret by US companies was how often and to what degree temporary workers, or temps, could be used to circumvent federal laws regarding labor rights. For the honest business owners, a temp could be a live saver in an emergency but to the less scrupulous, a temp is a worker primed for exploitation. 

The Perfect Victims?

Temps, by law, are cheaper to employ since they are paid on the lowest legal scale (receiving wages well below the standard for any regular employee that would work in the same position). In addition, temps do not qualify for overtime wages nor do they receive health insurance. Forget accumulated vacation time or even sick days. 
So why would anybody want to be a temp? The main reason is the most obvious one. In a word: Desperation.
Temp staff agencies are always hiring and for the desperate, any job- even a temp job- is better than nothing.

It is no coincidence that temporary work is now an industry unto itself, with an estimated 2.7 million workers—one of the fastest growing sectors in the economic “recovery.” That could be, some might say, only a sign of the level of desperation and an economic recovery based on temporary staffing is an illusionary one.  The temp worker rarely earns enough to boost any economy out of its doldrums.

The Full Time Deception

Another attraction is that temp companies say that temp workers can sometimes find full-time employment from a temporary position. Work hard and you will get a permanent position. This is the pitch (but not the actual promise) of temp agencies.
As journalist Michael Grabell for ProPublica explains:
Temps have worked for the same company for as long as 11 years, never getting hired on full-time. Companies have assigned temps to the most dangerous jobs. In several states, data showed that temps are three times more likely than regular workers to suffer amputations on the job. And even some of the country’s largest companies have relied on immigrant labor brokers and fly-by-night temp agencies that have cheated workers out of their wages.
As the economy slowly improved the number of temp jobs soared at a rate 10 times faster than private-sector employment as a whole.
Meanwhile,  the figures for full-time employment limped and hobbled along. That shouldn't come as a surprise. 
Corporate reliance on temp workers hurts all workers.
Across America, temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy, leading to the proliferation of what researchers have begun to call “temp towns.” They are often dense Latino neighborhoods teeming with temp agencies. Or they are cities where it has become nearly impossible even for whites and African-Americans with vocational training to find factory and warehouse work without first being directed to a temp firm.
In the end, it boils to hard cold business sense: why should an employer pay any more than absolutely necessary unless mandated by law? I

As we have heard so often, companies are not charities. They claim no social responsibilities. Today many employers feel no obligation to the welfare of their employees. And since temps are not actual employees of the firm, then they are even less of a concern.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tea Party's Ted Cruz Is Confident He Will Be The Answer

by Nomad

Apologies for the deceptive headline. I couldn't resist the temptation. In fact, this quote by Ted Cruz is probably more accurate than he intended it to be.

Out of all the silly things that Senator Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz has said, this is perhaps the only thing I can agree with him on. I sincerely hope that we all won't have to wait twenty years to make this forecast a reality.
I think it will be the hardest trivial pursuit question to answer because absolutely will recall who the hell Ted Cruz was.