Uncommon Sense

November 29, 2013

If Obamacare is Not Working for You, Blame Your Governor!

If you have gone onto the healthcare.gov website and it hasn’t worked for you, blame your Governor. The federal government doesn’t sell the insurance you need, so why did your Governor not accept the funds provided for your state to put up it’s own website? Look to the states which did so: California, Kentucky, Washington, New York, and a number of others. Hear any gnashing of teeth about their experiences? No? Well, guess what, only insurance companies licensed to sell insurance in your state are allowed to sell you health insurance. You can’t get it from another state. The good states have an Insurance Commissioner who regularly deals with those companies and would work with them to set up a clean, well-run website. But the federal website had to be able to offer plans from all of the states, an almost impossible problem.

So, why didn’t your state set up its own website with the money provided? Ask your Governor.

You might also want to know whether your Governor turned down the free Medicaid expansion that would have provided medical insurance to many thousands of your neighbors. The entire expansion was and is paid for by the federal government. If your state subsequently found out that there were some hidden costs to it that weren’t apparent up front, it could drop out in the future, but many states didn’t even try to extend this medical coverage to the poorest in their states.

Ask your Governor. I think he was worried that you’d get a little too comfortable with all of those government handouts. Why you might even be able to feed your kids and take them to the doctor (not the Emergency Room) when they got sick.

Ask your Governor. Then you’ll know who to vote for in the next elections. I’m sure he has a good reason or at least a good story as to why he did what he did. I am sure he wouldn’t play politics with your health. Just ask him.

November 27, 2013

Capitalism’s Own Worst Enemies: Capitalists

Prior to World War 2, the biggest capitalist bugaboo was the socialists. In fact, the fear of a strong U.S. Socialist Party was used deftly by Franklin Roosevelt to get the titans of commerce and industry to not oppose the 90+% marginal income tax rates he was proposing to fund the war effort. The conservatives were so afraid of the attraction of socialist ideas to poor people that they went out of their way to destroy the U.S. socialist parties. Post WW2, the bugaboo transformed into a fear communism, clearly a brother to socialism. There were communists in the government and under the bed, oh, my! This lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union and has been replaced lately by a loathing of Eurosocialism, “Socialism!” once again, albeit as only a mere shadow of its former state of disgust.

One can see why confirmed capitalists would hate such economic systems as they would stand in their way of becoming even more filthy rich than they are. So, since communism has been discredited and the socialists run out of town, what is left to oppose the might of the capitalist juggernaut? Very little, it would seem.

Wiser capitalist heads would recommend that one and all settle in for the long haul, become less visible, and just chuckle all the way to the banks, which they own, of course. But alas, that strategy has not been adopted. Instead, capitalists have decided to grind as many people under their boot heels as possible, to extract every possible dollar from the middle class, the poor, and the elderly so they can have another automobile elevator in their garage. Since the social safety net will require some taxation to support it, it has to be drastically trimmed back. High unemployment keeps wages low and profits high, so a jobs program? Not upon your life! And so on.

So why are these capitalists driving the bulk of American citizens back into the arms of socialists? Back into the arms of people who care about common people? Well, you see, big time capitalists really do believe that greed is good. They just can’t help themselves acting upon their credo.

The Filibuster Should Be . . . in the House or Gone (A Repost)

Note I originally posted this some time ago but due to the Nuclear Option being exercised, I think the salient points need to be restated, so. . . . 

I get the idea of the filibuster. It is a mechanism to prevent “tyranny of the majority,” which is where 51+% of the population can dictate to rest. This was an occasional rule change in the Senate requiring first a 2/3 (67+%) majority and now a 3/5 majority (60+%). It was used sparingly in the past and only for the most important topics because people felt it was a two edged sword. But the designers of the filibuster (which is not mentioned in the Constitution) couldn’t have foreseen one of the two major political parties wanting to discredit the government and hold the rest of us hostage.

There are two problems with the filibuster, well, three. The rest of the civilized world gets along fine without such a thing so we could do without it entirely. Secondly, it is now used too often, so if it is to be retained its use needs to be limited. Something like each party gets three filibusters per legislative session (two years) would work. And the third is that the filibuster is in the wrong house of Congress, it should be in the House. Let me explain.

The bicameral legislature we were provided by the Constitution was a late addition to the Constitutional debates and was a compromise to address one particular problem: the fear of the tyranny of the majority. In 1790, the U.S. population was 3,929,214 and six states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland had 66.5% of that population. The smaller states (commonwealths, whatever) were worried that the high population states could dictate to the low population states (the top four: Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Massachusetts had 50% of the population). The two models being talked about most were a single house of legislators, elected by population, and a bicameral or dual house of legislators (House and Senate) also elected by population. Obviously the “small” states were suspicious of the “big” state’s political power, so the compromise that sealed the deal was for there to be fixed representation in the Senate (two per state), with six year terms compared to only just two year terms in the popularly elected House to make it more of an intellectual and deliberative body.

Fast forward 220 years to 2010 (census data are only available for years that are multiples of ten, everything in between is estimated). We now have 50 states, not 13, the population is 80X higher at 311,592,000 and the top six states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania) still have much of the population (40.9%) but the key point is that the bottom 21 states have 10.4% of the population. Each of those states has two senators and, hence, have 42 votes in total, which is unbeatable if a filibuster is in place. And currently there are no limits on the number of filibusters.

Now, I am not saying that all of the Senators in 21 states will block legislation, just that they can. In fact the bottom 41 of the 50 states have only 45.8% of the population so you only need the equivalent of 21 out of those 41 states to be able to block any or all legislation going through Congress. Talk about the Tyranny of the Majority Minority. A very small fraction of the population of the U.S. has enough votes to stop the government cold. And if you don’t think that is the plan currently underway, consider the fact that the previous Congress passed the fewest bills of any Congress for which there are statistics.

If the filibuster were limited in number as suggested above and it were in the House, it would take Representatives representing a minimum of 41% of the population to filibuster a bill. That would protect the minority . . . and the majority.

One of two parties has a stated goal of reducing the size of the Federal Government. One of the two parties has filibustered everything in sight. That party is in favor of minority rule.

Tutsis meet the Hutus. Sunnis meet the Shias. Democrats meet Republicans. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America where the minority rules.

November 26, 2013

I’m Mad As Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take This Anymore!

The corporate elites and monied interests are trying to replace the label “citizen” with the word “consumer.” Stripping the poor of food stamps, the middle class of fair wages, students of a future, seniors of Medicare, and many of the right to vote, etc. results in there being nothing left for us but to be shoppers. Well, I have had enough I won’t play their game.

The puppet masters of the Tea Party and Republican politicians, have turned a somewhat social holiday weekend, that of Thanksgiving, into a shopping event. We are bombarded with advertisements to shop, shop, shop this weekend. They invented “Black Friday” as an attempt to extend the Christmas shopping season into new levels. Now they have decided that Black Friday is not enough, that stores need to be open on Thanksgiving Thursday, and Small Business Saturday, and. . . . so we can shop ‘til we drop.

I will not play their game.

I will not enter a store on Thanksgiving Day. Period.

I will not enter a store on Black Friday. Period.

I don’t care how much chumming they do, I will not bite on their special offers! If you encourage bad behavior, it will just get worse. I don’t want 25-50% off. I want fair wages for people’s labor. Consequently, I will not shop at WalMart or K-Mart or any other store that doesn’t pay fair wages.

I will not be a consumer to suit their needs. I am a god-damned citizen.

These conservative rich bastards don’t believe in Evolution but are the ultimate Social Darwinists. If they are rich, they are clearly superior and belong at the top of the pyramid. If you are beneath them in their imaginary pyramid, it is because you are unworthy. If you are poor, it is your fault. If your neighborhood school I substandard, don’t fix it, close it. These are the correct values according to these assholes: business values. Survival of the fittest is the rule of business and they are the fittest, by definition, because only money has any meaning to them as a measure of “fitness.” And they are turning our democracy, our society into just another low wage WalMart.

Don’t support them.

Open your window and shout “I’m Mad As Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take This Anymore!” And don’t shop this weekend. And don’t shop at WalMart and their ilk until they show they have recovered their civic senses and decide to pay living wages.

What Do We Want? Ignorance! When Do We Want It? Now!

“The Texas Board of Education on Friday delayed final approval of a widely used biology textbook because of concerns raised by one reviewer that it presents evolution as fact rather than theory.” So says the New York Times today.


Evolution is both a fact and a theory. Actually there are several theories covering that field of study. There are theories of gravity; does anyone deny that gravity is also a fact? There are theories about why it is atoms join up to make molecules, quite a number of them really. Does anyone doubt that atoms join up to make molecules? Anyone? No? Even though nobody has ever seen an atom or a molecule per se? No?

So why is there this battle over how Evolution, a matter of scientific explanation, is explained?

Oh, Christians . . . again.

Well, not all Christians, just the American Protestant varieties who believe that every single word in their bible is true and the “word of their god.” Well, appaprently it is not enough that these folks are the laughingstock of the entire English-speaking world, they also want to make a singularly large bet. By insisting that every . . . single . . . word in their bible is true, they are setting up a test, a test which if they fail, their whole religion comes tumbling down. If one thing in their bible is proven not to be true, then oblivion comes.

Interestingly enough, they are also proving the power of ignorance, actually ignor-ance. There are myriad contradictions in their book of the “both cannot possibly be true” variety. For example, in Chapter 1 (you know, Genesis), there are two lists of what Yahweh created on each of the six days of creation. And the lists have different orders of creation. Both cannot be true. The evangelicals safeguarding our schools from Evolution ignore this fact. There are hundreds of examples of flat out contradictions that are similar. They ignore those, too.

Actually the first five books of their Holy Bible were written as a political fiction in the sixth century BCE to support a land grab of a king of Judea. This is accepted by the people who wrote and cared for those books of the bible, the Jews. This is taught in most Christian seminaries to be true, except maybe a few who prefer ignor-ance.

So, these worthy theists in Texas don’t have a leg to stand on, but are defending their right to be ignorant and their children (and your children, too, as the Texas schoolbook market is big enough to affect all of the textbooks sold in the U.S.) to be ignorant and you will have to pry their bibles out of their cold, dead fingers. It is a shame they haven’t read them.

November 25, 2013

OMG Pope displays St. Peter’s bones for the first time!

Filed under: History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:31 am
Tags: , , ,

You know what this proves?

Absolutely nothing . . .

other than a continuing willingness to deceive either us or themselves.

If, on the outside chance they have provenance, that is an unbroken chain of evidence to link those bones to a man named Peter (and why would an Israelite have a Greek name?), so what? They are no more meaningful than the bones of a mastodon.

If there is no unbroken chain of evidence, would these “artifacts” be submitted for dating or DNA analysis? I wonder.

Iran Nuclear Deal . . . a Good Deal?

Critics of the deal that was cut to slightly curtail Iran’s nuclear program for temporary and slight reductions in the economic sanctions imposed upon Iran for all of six months say that the deal is too little, that it won’t do enough?


Question What is necessary to create a lasting significant deal at this level on this subject?

Answer Trust.

Question How much trust is there between Iran and any U.S. lead contingent?

Answer Zero.

Baby steps are needed. Small agreements that test the resolve of the negotiating partners that build trust over time which then allows for larger deals. The critics are off base and quite likely have ulterior motives.

Afghanistan Considers Reintroduction of Public Stoning for Adulterers

The above was the title of an article in The Guardian today. I assume they mean female adulterers as I expect the men will be let off with a verbal rebuke, no?

Didn’t we just make a deal with these bronze age zealots to be allies for the next decade after a decade or more in which we fought a war more or less for them (Al-Queda was gone after a couple of years, so we fought the Taliban to escape our boredom)?

Many have commented that Afghan society is immensely corrupt, but they stop short of saying what is fueling the current high level of corruption—funds from the U.S. We have been pouring amounts of money greater than their GDP into their country for years now. Prior to this point their corruption was small potatoes. Only we had the capacity to launch them so high in the standings of corrupt countries.

The Neocons say that if we leave, Afghanistan will fall into chaos. Apparently they think that is worse than what they have now—a well-paid faux government sucking up to the Taliban.

Calling Obamacare Rollout a “Disaster” is Ludicrous

I’m not using the Hurricane Katrina reference here, I am specifically addressing the use of the word “disaster” which has been dropped repeatedly by opponents and proponents of the Affordable Care Act.

So, I have a few questions:
How many people died?
How many people were injured?
How much property was damaged?
How much money was lost?

Answers: Zero, Zero, Zero, Zero.

Some “disaster.”

A better word, possibly, would be an “embarrassment” or maybe an “inconvenience.” Get a grip Talking Heads!

November 23, 2013

Why, God, Why?

Filed under: History,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 am
Tags: , , ,

USA Today reported yesterday that hydrologists had made an amazing discovery:

100-million-year-old ocean discovered under Chesapeake Bay
Researchers discovered the remains of an ancient saltwater ocean trapped a half-mile underground. An asteroid that smashed into the area around 35 million years ago created a crater that preserved about 3 trillion gallons of seawater. According to government hydrologists, the find is “the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world.”

The only question remaining is why would God, who made the world approximately 6000 years ago, place this strange artifact for us to find. Was he deliberately trying confuse us or test our faith? For now this find will just have to be added to the myriad other perplexing finds which indicate an earth far, far older than it could be.

Possibly to soften the blow of this find the article also mentioned: “A similar find from this week: An ancient city was discovered under Biblical-era ruins.”

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.