Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday.  Clear so far though the sun hasn't yet risen.  Weeding and sweeping up are the only planned garden chores today.  (Update: beautifully sunny but windy and very cool.  Won't be doing much of anything outside.  Luckily we can watch the birds from inside.)

I have been listening to the Repthuglican bleating about the situation in Iraq insisting that we have to do something to counter the ISIS (a.k.a. ISIL) insurgents.  All of a sudden Nouri Al-Malaki actually wants U.S. help--in the form of air strikes.  However, reading this piece from the Guardian reinforces my feeling that we should not dive back into that quagmire.  Our military trained the army of which 30K men ran from, supposedly, 800 ISIS fighters??  Really??  That doesn't say much about either the teachers or the students.  And I doubt only 800 men are holding at least four Iraqi cities and moving on Baghdad.  I don't know how much support ISIS actually has in the Sunni Triangle but I am sure it is much less than the Shia led "central" government.  My references to "Shia" and "Sunni" should clue you in to the fact that Iraq as a unified country has been a fiction from the moment of its creation in the aftermath of WWI when the French and British divvied up parts of the old Ottoman Empire to suit themselves and their oil interests. (ISIS=Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; ISIL=Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant)

Although the event described here was a bit more than 50 years in the past and totally unknown, for the most part, it falls somewhere in the OH, SHIT range.

I read an interesting post yesterday which argued that the political divide today resembles the religious divide of five centuries ago.  The vitriol is indeed strikingly similar.  This Pew Research poll reinforces that assessment.  Our economics and politics have become so intertwined with religious (and pseudo religious) attitudes that they are nearly inseparable to separate.  Religious extremists are conducting a new crusade using politics as their vehicle to enforce their version of religious law on everyone at the same time they seem to assume that Moses came down from Sinai with an eleventh commandment: thou shalt honor Capitalism in all ways.

And here is another OH, SHIT post from Salon.  I know, I know.  How many of us over here eat squid?  But how soon before the carbapenem-resistant bacteria (or other bacteria similarly resistant) spreads beyond raw squid?  It wasn't so long ago that experts were warning us about entering the "post-antibiotic era."  If that doesn't scare you then I don't know what would.

We have a simple rule when shopping: ignore the front label and read the back label carefully.  This story reinforces that rule whatever the courts rule in the end.

My reaction to the title of this piece:  Well, DUH!!  This is Capitalism in action.  A bit of a history lesson: before the 1930s electric power was virtually unknown outside the big cities and wealthier towns because either the wealth or the population density was missing from the equation.  In other words, the companies couldn't extend service because they wouldn't get a return on the investment.  With the Great Depression the federal government made the investments necessary to electrify the country hoping to jump start a stalled economy.  The economic take off didn't happen right away but the new infrastructure did facilitate economic development after WWII along with another federal infrastructure project--The Interstate and Defense Highway System.  Ironically, I don't think Eisenhower would have gotten it without the Cold War hysteria and the word DEFENSE in the title.  If we think the rural population and the poor should have access to good roads, electricity, or internet connections then we have to rely on mechanisms other than capitalism to deliver.

I didn't get very far into this piece when I really wanted to throw up.  The logic here escapes me totally.  Let me see if I can make sense of it.  The Repthuglicans, who evidently don't have a single gnat's brain amongst them, want to replenish the highway trust fund, which will be empty by August (if not sooner), by ending Saturday mail delivery (except for packages) and transferring the savings to the highway trust fund.  But I seem to remember that the US Postal Service is running a massive deficit thanks to the Congressional mandate that the USPS prepay retirement funds for the next 75 years.  So any "savings" accrued by canceling Saturday mail service would be swallowed by the deficit.  I can't think of a more efficient way to wreck both the highway trust fund and the Postal Service than robbing broke Peter to pay slightly less broke Paul.  Unless the unstated but real purpose is to totally wreck both agencies.  Then the plan is f&%$king brilliant.

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