SocraticGadfly: 4/15/07 - 4/22/07

April 20, 2007

Ford obviously gives no thought to either Peak Oil or global warming

Not with the three gas-guzzlers de luxe it introduced at the New York Auto Show.

Ridiculous and corporatedly irresponsible.

Finally: A major politician who understands conservation

Including its economic and employment benefits

“Take THAT, Dick Cheney,” could have been the mantra of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's recent speech on Peak Oil and energy conservation. (Complete speech, in PDF format, here. Highlights follow.

First, he describes exactly HOW Cheney is wrong on conservation:
I will admit that the Vice President's skepticism about the benefits of efficiency may have made sense in 1970, when most people believed energy efficiency meant nothing more than wearing more sweaters in the winter.

But technology has marched on and, in the intervening years, the marginal cost of energy efficiency has plummeted while the marginal cost of energy generation has shot up.

In terms of dollars and cents, it now costs one-third as much to save a given amount of energy through efficiency programs as it does to produce the same amount of energy by building a new power plant. The fact is that energy efficiency now makes economic sense.

This is the logic that the Vice President misses - the simple idea that the cheapest and cleanest power plant in the world is the one you never have to build.

In addition to conservation being “cheaper” than it ever was, you just can't argue against the simplicity of that last paragraph.

But, how do you make conservation work for an electric utility's bottom line? Well, Spitzer has ideas on that:
First, we must eliminate a perverse incentive in the marketplace that discourages utilities from conserving energy. The problem is that we want utilities to encourage their customers to conserve - but right now, when their customers conserve energy, the utility loses money. Obviously, this incentive structure is upside down if our goal is to increase energy efficiency.

Other states have done this. It works. Now, let's implement it.

Take that, too, Mr. VP.

And, Spitzer understands, unlike the doomsaying Darth Vader, that this will HELP not hurt the economy.
Think of all the high-paying jobs that will be needed to retrofit power plants, homes and office buildings so they can be more efficient; the jobs that will be needed to develop innovative efficiency and clean energy technologies; or the jobs that will be needed to manufacture the products at the scale that will be necessary to reach our goals.

So, why can't we get him to run for President? Seriously, I'd be likely to vote for Spitzer over any currently announced Democrat.

How can “the surge” be successful when U.S., Iraq, have HUGELY different definitions of “success”?

First, when will clueless Iraq war supporters EVER realize this ONE BASIC FACT: The Iraqi government’s interests are divergent, sometimes radically divergent, from ours? The whole idea of “success” for the “surge” goes right down the crapper when the principals involved have hugely different ideas of success in the first place:

Gen. Petraeus and his brain trust have devised the best possible Plan F, given the resources available to the Pentagon and declining patience for the war at home. But the Achilles heel of this latest effort is the Maliki government. It is becoming increasingly clear to all in Baghdad that its interests — seeking power and treasure for its Shiite backers — diverge sharply from those of the U.S.-led coalition. Even if Gen. Petraeus’ plan succeeds on the streets of the city, it will fail in the gilded palaces of the Green Zone. Maliki and his supporters desire no rapprochement with the Sunnis and no meaningful power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis and the Kurds. Indeed, Maliki can barely hold his own governing coalition together, as evidenced by the Sadr bloc’s resignation from the government this week and the fighting in Basra over oil and power.

Plan F will fail if (or when) the Maliki government fails, even if it improves security. At that point, we will have run out of options, having tried every conceivable strategy for Iraq. It will then be time for Plan G: Get out.

And, if that's not enough, our own definition of “success” continues to be elusive a deliberately shifted target :

Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

Tying the two articles together only reinforces what anybody who's not a mindless war hawk knows: We've been training guerillas and calling it “success.” Beyond that, you have a president who’s too stupid and a vice-president who’s too bull-headed to admit we’ve been played as patsies. Again.

Kucinich ignores Pelosi, to introduce Cheney impeachment articles

About damned time.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a 2004 and 2008 Presidential candidate and opponent of the war with Iraq from the start, will introducearticles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney, likely April 25.

Another reason not to buy “Made in China”

At my office, I get a weekly e-mail, subscribed to by my predecessor, from Just about every week, at least one Chinese-made product is on the recall list because of lead-based paint.

Remember, China and other outsourced manufacturers aren’t required to live up to our hazards standards.

Lindsey Graham offers Alberto Gonzales a “spinning” lifeline

And he’s still too dumb to take it.

The South Carolina senator basically offered the attorney general a “get out of jail free” card during the AG’s April 19 Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.

Graham, in an obviously rhetorical question, said (semi-direct quote from listening to an NPR rehash), “These were all about personality conflicts, weren’t they?”

Easy way for Gonzo to admit that yes, they weren’t performance-based (since not a single GOP senator will defend that one), but deny they were based on the GOP’s jihad about purging minority voters from voter lists and otherwise turning voting rights issues on its head.

Sounds like a great out. I bet Graham could have lined up Senate GOP support for that talking point; he may even have done it before he threw it out there.

But, V-05 is, and was, just too damn dumb.

April 19, 2007

NO to a Congressman for DC

This is one bit of “liberal” PC folly I strictly oppose, and consider it more serious than the scurrilous GOP accusations that House Dems put pork in the military spending bill recently.

But those same House Dems feel they have to pander, I guess, and so approved a bill giving the District one Congressional representative, and presumably, an electoral vote (plus the two to represent the inevitable senators as well).

Folks, this IS unconstitutional, disgusting as it is to agree with Kentucky’s wingnut senator, Mitch McConnell. If DC residents want to vote in federal elections or have federal representation, the Constitution is clear: the District of Columbia is supposed to revert to Maryland. We then recalculate House representation and national division of Electoral College votes from there.

Now, if Pelosi wants to try the amendment process for this, fine. I do not like the idea anyway.

Make me laugh: Exxon’s Math and Science Academy

Make me laugh: Exxon’s Math and Science Academy

I saw the commercials for this during The Masters, and hadn’t remembered to blog about it until now.

First thought: Don’t you actually have to understand math and science, and engineering, etc., to sponsor an academy like this?

Second thought: Here’s your list of course offerings:

• Stress tensile strength of single-hull tankers. See how much collision stress single-hull oil tankers can withstand. Involves combined field trips-classroom experiments on scenic Alaskan shores
• Anthropogenic effects on seashore wildlife biology habitats. Prerequisite: Course above. Study the effects of crude oil on pristine habitats. Includes additional follow-up experiments.
• Numerical literacy and difficulty in counting to 450 parts per million. Learn how numeric literacy need not include counting up to dangerously high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
• Numeric literacy and counting billions of dollars. Prerequisite: Course immediately above. Learn how counting dollars donated to science-obfuscating “think tanks” obviates the illiteracy of not being able to count to 450 parts per million.

Note: Catalogue is still under discussion and formulation. Your suggestions are welcome.

Five flaws in American criminal jurisprudence

So says Kerry Max Cook, wrongfully convicted of rape and murder, then incarcerated 22 years before exhonoration.

The five flaws?
The first flaw is an error of mistaken identification, and the second is the use of weak inmate testimony by the prosecution, he said. The third flaw is “junk sciences.” Cook said this is when the prosecution calls expert witnesses who essentially tailor their findings to remove reasonable doubt and ensure conviction.

The fourth flaw, prosecutorial misconduct, Cook deems the most critical in regards to his own false conviction, he said.

“The reason for that degree of prosecutorial misconduct is that prosecutors enjoy qualified immunity, and in the wrong hands, it becomes nothing short of a license to lie and cheat,” he said.

The fifth flaw is ineffective assistance counseling, Cook said, using a comparison between Kmart and Saks Fifth Avenue shoppers to show what having the money to hire the best lawyers can do for someone.

Sure, DNA testing may reverse cases, but if the state doesn’t do DNA review, let alone always do it, and do it well on today’s active cases? Well, it all boils down to defendant money:
“Money is what determines who lives and dies in this country. The death penalty is not racist; the death penalty targets the poor.”

Beyond that is the issue of getting money to get a good lawyer, especially in the face of that flaw of prosecutorial misconduct. (Arguably, that flaw includes Nos. 2 and 3 as well.)

Federal watchlist? Try “lists,” as in way more than one

Wired magazine lists nine such watchlists, about half related to 9/11.

Your Texas incarceration system at work

Two Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies suspended without pay for beating a handcuffed inmate, then slamming him into the wall, all for the offense of being “mouthy.”

Texas to reject REAL ID, despite two years of hypocrisy behind it

State Rep. Joe Corte is leading the charge to opt Texas out of REAL ID, the federal driver’s license law which is both an unfunded mandate and a massive data-mining exercise.

The former apparently bothers Corte. But, the latter didn’t two years ago, when he backed legislation expanding state biometric data gathering — as a ramp-up for REAL ID. Problem is, Gov. Perry’s own data mining program, ostensibly for state homeland security, is now wind-drafting in the powers of Corte’s 2005 bill.

Progressive taxation fear-mongering: another myth of hypercapitalists

This is one of the biggies the fiscal far right always loves to trot out. It has several components, and I’ll tackle the top ones.

First is that this is “punitive.”
Nonsense. The well-to-do most benefit from an orderly society, and the very well-to-do benefit even further from the muscle of lobbyists, etc., and should pay more for that, including for the “bread and circuses” that are today’s opiate of the masses.

Second, this will discourage the rich from working harder and making more.
More nonsense. There’s plenty of rich people that have come out of western Europe, like Richard Branson, who not only appear to continue to work hard, but also work creatively. Besides, when you’re a billionaire, from what I know of human psychology, it’s not the money that keeps you motivated, per se, but the challenge of making more — the thrill of the chase. It’s also the competition on those Fortune 500-type lists — where do you rank? And, if more of your income is from Europe rather than the U.S., your competition makes the mental adjustments.

Third, this is not “fair” to have progressive rates.
Funny, many hypercapitalists will use the same “not fair” argument when arguing against various types of welfare benefits. Nothing’s fair in life, arguably, so welcome to getting hoist by your own petard.

Fourth, it’s “my” money, not the government’s.
See talking point No. 2. If you really want it to be “your” money, buy an entire uninhabited island and try to start your own country.

April 18, 2007

Va. Tech killer Cho

Does the background of Virginia Tech rampage killer Cho Seung-Hui suggest the federal government is now spying on our medical history? I hate to sound paranoid, but read the government’s own words:

From the ABC News story about Cho's background:

Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government's files. (Massive emphasis mine.)

What the hell?

Update: According to Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly, this may be the deal:
It's possible they're talking about MIB, which is an insurance company database that includes medical histories, including drug use. More than likely, the last time you signed up for healthcare insurance there was fine print in the contract stating that you agree to let your doctor submit information about you to MIB. Most people don't know this, but it's virtually impossible to get insurance without agreeing to this.

Alternatively, they may be talking about some other database. If so, I don't know what it is.

Capitalism and its discontents

I believe we need to drive a stake through Adam Smith and his “invisible hand,” the vampires of fictively ideal “capitalism.”

Let me state that global warming, or peak oil, has nothing to do with the less-than-perfect nature of capitalism, or my assessment of capitalism’s inadequacies.

By “driving a stake,” I mean driving a stake through the idea that “the market is always right in the end,” or similar bullshit. Because it is bullshit.

As I’ve blogged elsewhere, Adam Smith did NOT invent economics as a (social) science, “dismal” or otherwise.

Rather, he became the first person to seriously philosophize about economics. Big difference. And, because of the expansion of the British Empire, and its then-junior American relative, over the next century-plus, people for some reason thought capitalism as espoused by Smith (and similar minded followers) was an insight of genius.

First, it was based on the now-discredited philosophy of Enlightenment Deism. Smith’s “invisible hand” was nothing more than an economic-specific hand of the Watchmaker Supreme Being “winding up the world.”

Well, 225 years on, we’ve seen just how deluded Enlightenment Deism actually was. That alone puts the kibosh on capitalism as political philosophy.

Second, the “worship” of capitalism is a clear post hoc, propter hoc fallacy. In other words, just because the British Empire burgeoned after Adam Smith theorized doesn’t mean capitalism had a damn thing to do with it. In fact, given the strongly mercantalist British economy until the 1832 corn bill, and the fairly mercantalist British economy until the 1867 second corn bill, it’s quite arguable that capitalism had little to do with it. Certainly not capitalism as idealized.

(In fact, if one looks at the post World War II American Empire, there’s clearly mercantilist bits to it. Our whole “special arrangement” with the House of Saud comes to mind.)

Third, Smith (and his followers until some Univ. of Chicago profs started winning Nobels for doing just this) left no place for emotions, emotional actions, and emotional illogic in his enlightenment capitalism. To the degree emotions can be studied in capitalism, its hugely in the aggregate at the most macro level; short of people wearing a Borg-like fMRI box on their heads, you’ll never get that study close to the level of individuals.

Is capitalism “all wet”? No. Is the fictive idealization of it often trotted out for hypercapitalist dog and pony shows “all wet”? Well, it could probably stand a stocking-in of umbrellas.

“Replace” it? No, I didn’t say that.

But, since you may be asking ...

First, contrary to many libertarians, the “tragedy of the commons” is both a real and a serious issue. That’s in part based on the emotion-based decision-making noted above, which often precludes long-term thinking, and thinking as part of a social group above a certain size.

Second, I don’t claim governments are perfect. As I once posted here, ideally, I’d be described as a libertarian socialist... at least with one foot. But, I know that’s not realistic.

So, I have no problem saying that my other foot is in the waters of social democracy.

Are we better than Western Europe in many ways? Yes. Is that always because of our political, economic or social systems? Not even close.

Are we sometimes deluding ourselves we’re better? Yes.

Take unemployment. Everybody talks about high unemployment in Europe.

Well, it ain’t so much so, if you compare apples to oranges.

For instance, in the U.S., if you work for a temp agency like Manpower, you’re considered employed. In Germany, you’re considered unemployed.

Given that, as of the turn of the century, per an old Nation article, Manpower is the biggest employer in both countries, and temp agencies make up about 2 percent of the work force in both countries, that’s a HUGE adjustment you need to make to compare apples to apples. Other, smaller ones, are worth at least half a percentage point, meaning U.S.-German unemployment differences are only 2 percentage points, not 4.5 or 5.

Is that worth it for the greater stability of German social democracy-style capitalism, or something similar? I’d say yes.

And, you know, I bet a lot of Americans would, if we could get them deprogrammed from the brainwashing of American society and business elites.

Dan Branch protests too much on Texas Lege recorded votes half-loaf

Branch, a Dallas state representative, defended the Texas House's voting for a constitutional amendment that will only require a recorded version of final votes on bills. Votes on preliminary legislation, including amendments to the original bill, will remain unrecorded under this compromise. (The bill still has to go to the Senate, and then would go on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment for public approval.

Not all representatives thought it was a huge improvement:
Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, was among the legislators who said the measure didn't do enough because it only requires recorded votes on final passage, not preliminary passage, which is when most debate occurs and amendments are made to bills. Veasey described that as "the real meat and potatoes of any debate that we have.”

Branch, on the other hand, claimed this is what news media representatives wanted. Uhh, not quite:
The Texas Daily Newspaper Association views the proposed constitutional amendment as a positive compromise and a victory for open government, said Ken Whalen, executive vice president of the association.

“Compromise” doesn't mean “wanted” in my book. And, to call preliminary and amendment votes “inside baseball” is basically telling concerned citizens to “go get lost.”

“Conservation” is not a stock listed on the NYSE

In light of Peak Oil and related energy issues, I’ve decided this is the bottom-line mindset of too many conservatives, and the biggest single (and perhaps intractable) roadblock to many people actually willing to talk about conservation, even those several shades more rational than Dick Cheney.

And, I mean this literally.

“Conservation” cannot be bought, sold or trade. It cannot be speculated on; it has no commodities futures market; it cannot be rolled into a mutual fund; it cannot be made part of a real estate investment trust.

So, to the more rabid capitalists who cannot understand life if its various elements don’t have dollar signs in front of them, “conservation” is literally invisible.

Ergo, those of us really worried about our country’s, and our globe’s, energy future, need to do the logical thing and stop trying to discuss conservation with people like this.

Kim Il Sung dies: Counterfactual history turning point

Former President Jimmy Carter, with entourage, in 1994 became the first American to visit North Korea since the end of the Korean War, right after its president, Kim Il Sung, had started that country down a path that could be used to develop nuclear weaponry. By the time he left Pyongyang, Carter had laid the groundwork for Kim to have a summit meeting with South Korean counterpart Kim Young Sam. Unfortunately, he died just a few weeks later, while visiting the proposed summit site in South Korea, and his mentally unstable son, Kim Jong Il, took over North Korea.

I don’t know how much different things would have been if the elder Kim lived long enough to go through the summit, especially if he had then had the time to re-educate his son about some new realities, assuming that would even have been possible. It surely would have made some difference, though.

John Anderson runs for president: Counterfactual history turning point

I got to wondering the other day what would have happened with America’s political future, including “resurgent” conservativism, if the Illinois Republican Congressman had not mounted his independent candidacy to become president.

Given that President Jimmy Carter was running at least even with Ronald Reagan until their debate the Friday before the election, things might have changed a lot. (And let’s not forget the theft of Carter’s debate briefing book.) Carter’s strategy probably would have been different without Anderson in the race, to boot. He would have had to gone on the attack more himself, or with Vice President Walter Mondale. And, over the wrangling of whether or not Anderson should be in a debate or not (he was in one earlier one where Carter refused to participate) Carter probably could have gotten that final debate moved a couple of weeks earlier, possibly giving him the chance to recover from any problems in it.

That said, what if other elements of the race had played out just as they did, but without Anderson present?

I think about one-third of his supporters would have stayed home and the rest broken 3-2 for Carter. That would have cut a nearly 10-point popular vote edge to 8 points, or 54-46, throwing out minor party candidates.

On the electoral vote side, it would have given Carter a reasonable to good chance of picking up 83 additional electoral votes, changing that margin from 489-49 to 406-132. (Carter narrowly lost both New York and Massachusetts.) That would have sounded a bit less “mandate-like” for Reagan. Also, slightly longer Carter coattails would have reduced the size of the Blue Dog Democrat-GOP coalition in the House, as well as perhaps keeping a few of those Blue Dogs from changing parties. I’m not sure if it would have affected the Senate outcomes anywhere or not.

In short, the “Reagan Revolution” would have been a little bit less revolutionary in both perception and result. That probably would have been most true on the domestic side; supply-siders and their lust for tax cuts at any cost would have gotten less of a return.

So, to Democrats who want to complain about Ralph Nader in 2000? The problem started 20 years earlier.

April 17, 2007

Solar power? You’d have to cover one-sixth of the whole Earth, or 59 percent of its land area, with photovoltaic solar cells to produce the ene

Solar power? You’d have to cover one-sixth of the whole Earth, or 59 percent of its land area, with photovoltaic solar cells to produce the energy equivalent to our oil use. (And that’s assuming the sun is shining all the time, which is of course the $64 issue with solar power.)

Biofuels? Even worse. You’d need to have 46 percent of the planet’s total area growing biofuels crop. Hope you like watching hundreds of millions of people starve. Of course, I said 46 percent of TOTAL area/ That’s more than 100 percent of its land area.

Natural gas instead of petroleum? U.S. production peaked a decade or more ago. Production for all of North America peaked in 2005. True, worldwide production is still growing, but as more people want more electricity, not all of that is coming here. AND, don’t forget that natural gas is the base stock for modern fertilizer production. To the degree you DO want to produce more biofuels, you kind of shoot yourself in the energy foot doing so.

Anyway, worldwide, Russia will peak on gas production in a decade. The world will peak probably by 2025.

The only way our energy future can avoid blowing up 20 years from now is immediate action.

Coal? Besides it’s global warming problems, coal reserves even here in the U.S. may be overstated. “Peak Coal” could hit before 2050, if not well before.

Learn more. Write Representatives and Senators and beg, plead and implore them to get serious about this.

Peak Oil here now, one energy analysis says

The world has seen a 1 percent decline in oil reserves over the past two years, according to Energy Intelligence. Here’s the details.

The world is currently producing more oil annually than it is replacing with new reserves. That sobering conclusion emerges from a new survey of global liquids reserves published by Energy Intelligence.

In contrast to the gradual rise in global oil reserves that has been reported annually in most surveys based on public sources, the new assessment shows that the trend in worldwide liquids reserves is actually one of stagnation and modest decline. The PIW Reserves Survey shows global oil reserves declining by almost 13 billion barrels, or 0.9%, over the last two years to 1.459 trillion bbl at the end of 2006 on a "proved plus probably" basis. Global oil reserves are liquid hydrocarbons, natural gas liquids, tar sands and crude oil, that are economically recoverable at current prices.

The PIW survey uses a somewhat broader definition of reserves than the other surveys based on public sources and it applies that definition consistently and systematically across all countries, fully accounting for production declines and new additions.

No, ethanol, with 20 percent less energy content than gasoline, won’t solve this. (Besides, global supplies of the natural gas that make modern ammonia-based fertilizers are also projected by many analysts to decline within a decade, maybe less.)

No, Americans need to wake up and recognize that the old economy just isn’t going to be the same for a lot longer.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media’s punditry crew are and remain clueless about this. Remember, America could start grinding to a halt before global warming — not that we should stop being concerned about global warming.

April 16, 2007

Bush puts his personal fingerprint on U.S. Attorney firing

Turns out “the Decider” IS, at least in this case, the decider, namely in the firing of David Iglesias, former U.S. District Attorney for the judicial district covering the state of New Mexico.

An April 15 story by the Albuquerque Journal shows that 30-year-plus U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, also a committee chair before the 2006 election results, personally and directly called Bush to get Iglesias fired. With Iglesias’ actual canning coming less than two weeks later, it’s easy to connect the dots.
Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired after Sen. Pete Domenici, who had been unhappy with Iglesias for some time, made a personal appeal to the White House, the Journal has learned. …

In the spring of 2006, Domenici told (Attorney General Alberto) Gonzales he wanted Iglesias out.

Gonzales refused. He told Domenici he would fire Iglesias only on orders from the president.

At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president.

Domenici and Bush subsequently had a telephone conversation about the issue.

The conversation between Bush and Domenici occurred sometime after the election but before the firings of Iglesias and six other U.S. attorneys were announced on Dec. 7.

Has Bush and his press office denied this? Well, technically, but with Mack truck loopholes:
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the president did not tell Gonzales to fire Iglesias. He also said that Gonzales did not recall discussing with Domenici whether or not to replace Iglesias.

A White House spokesman, Trey Bohn, pointed to comments made by President Bush and his adviser Dan Bartlett last month when asked about the conversation with Domenici.

Bush said that in speaking to Gonzales about U.S. attorneys, “I never brought up a specific case nor gave him specific instructions.” Bartlett said that “there was no directive given, as far as telling him to fire anybody or anything like that.”

The last graf is the loophole graf.

First, it’s technically the president’s call, no matter who the president, on the hiring or firing of any district attorney.

Second, Bush could have called Gonzales without mentioning Iglesias by name, after the Domenici call. Say that Gonzo was already looking at a “firings list.” Bush could simply have said, “He called, as Rove arranged. Let’s get cracking on that list.” No specific case mentioned.

Talking Points Memo has much more.

Bush: Clueless idiot, or Svengali of some sort?

Those of us progressives who have watched him from years, especially inside Texas, have probably always debated this issue back and forth. Perhaps we’ve not been as charitable as the 2000 press, but we might still have argued for Bush being Cheney’s puppet to some degree.

Well, an April 15 story by the Albuquerque Journal blows “clueless” out of the water. The paper writes that 30-year-plus U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, also a committee chair, personally and directly called Bush to get U.S. District Attorney David Iglesias fired.

Svengali is the only answer.

Random thoughts from Far South Lancaster

When the senior class of a high school that serves a rural area of about 2,000 people is taking a class trip to New York City, even if just on a two-day turnaround, I don’t think schools and their constituents in the area are all that poor.

Nor is the religion of most Americans “almost outlawed,” contrary to an area columnist.

Were drugs used that much in the past? Sure, even more before the Harrison Act criminalized most of them. Today’s drug use, beyond that, is not that seriously different from 20-30 years ago, other than … it’s down amongst most age, social and ethnic groups.

Rural/small town “Ozzie and Harriett” Andy Rooneys… have I said recently I want out of here?

April 15, 2007

Posting volume slowing down? Well, perhaps it has

Maybe I did taper off a bit this weekend. And last weekend; here’s why.

I’ve had stuff on my mind … or my heart … that’s reared up more the last few weeks. Through personal journaling, counselor’s visits, and the (sur)realness of being “here” sinking in further, I’ve had anxiety levels ramping up a lot, especially on weekends. Big sleeping problems, waking up an hour or two early at least half the days of the week. And other emotional issues, as well as my struggles with some other stuff.

I’m in a social network site, now, too. Ning is kind of like MySpace. And a secular recovery program I’m in has a network there now. So, I’ve been getting a bit more into that, as at least some of the people there can relate to a lot of my post traumatic stress disorder issues, the ones even deeper than a recovery program is normally about.

Anyway, I’ll probably be continuing to be a bit more involved with that.

I don’t mean any of the above to sound like I’m “unique” in some way, or that any of you reading are clueless. But, it’s just that you may not have experienced the type of events to produce the reactions to life that I have. Be grateful.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be posting here at all, just that if volume lessens or becomes more erratic, you know why. In addition to provoking political thought, I have to keep my ass from falling off.

Some post-Imus thoughts on rap

This is generated in part due to some back-and-forth e-mails with an editor friend of mine.

Yes, young white men may be buying the majority of “gangsta” rap in the country; nonetheless, nobody’s putting guns to young black men’s heads and forcing them to write crap like that.

And, that said, there’s two parts to this crap.

One is, if you will, the apparent racial self-hatred (though rappers may deny it) of calling each other “nigger.” (No euphemisms here.) To some degree, I say, if that’s what you want to do, “fine,” as that’s in-group action against itself.

Calling women “hos,” whether they’re black or white, that’s a different story. Male misogyny is an action against an out-group, and I have no problem calling it out right away.

Call me a bit cynical, but on the other hand, if young black men want to call each other “pimp,” especially if they could find a worse version of that word, and talk about “bastard-slapping” each other, I’m fine with that. Or, for that matter, if young WHITE men want to do that, and try to sell records with it, go for it.