5 Quick Political Facts for Today (3/4/15)

Money, money, money, dru-ugs…and guns.  I forget how that song goes.

This drink intermission sponsored by corporate tax-dodging America!
  • GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio lays out his economic plan for the country and it’s all kinds of terrible.  Nothing overly surprising in the plan as it’s a giveaway to the wealthy and will hurt the poor and middle-class, like most GOP proposals.  Tax cuts for corporations, elimination of dividends and capital gains tax, and cuts to Medicare and Social Security to pay for it.  Please keep trumping that idea around so everyone is clear about what you want to do to us.  I’m sure that presidential run will go great, Senator Nochanceinhell!
  • In economic inequality news, David Geffen donates $100 million to Lincoln Center.  It’s great he wants to make such a donation to the arts but it’s hard to ignore the economic disparity when these donations are made at the same time the wages of the majority have stagnated for so many decades.  It must be nice to donate the equivalent of 6631 minimum wage earners’ combined yearly salaries in one shot.  The donation is great but it does help exemplify the huge difference between the have-everythings and the have-littles.
  • An appeals court has upheld a California city’s ban on gun magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.  A small victory for commonsense gun policy but the case will go through more appeals as gun nuts desperately beg for an increase in the size of their magazines.  Blah blah blah penis joke.  Bob Loblaw penis joke.  Blah blah blah penis joke.  Moving on.
  • Heroin death rates in the United States have quadrupled since 2000So odd it is happening.  It’s almost as if the market has been flooded with more heroin from the people who grow the most heroin in the world since the year 2000 for some reason.  I wonder how that happened?

The article is filled with good information until the end when this quote appears:

David G. Evans, of the Drug-Free America Foundation, blames the use of less-harmful drugs for the uptick in heroin use.

“I think heroin deaths are going up in part because the attitude has changed towards marijuana,” he said. “Kids now think marijuana is a medicine so it’s okay to use it. You get involved in a drug culture, you get high, you get addicted, one drug just seems like the other, and I think that’s a big part of it.”

Ah, the good ole Gateway Theory.  Hasn’t that myth been killed enough by academics to never bother quoting in a serious article on drug use?  It’s like finding a fossil fuel funded climate denying scientist to quote in a climate change article.  We’re better than that now, aren’t we?

  • Palestinian president Abbas calls Israel gangsters over the tax dollars they are holding from the Palestinian people.  If you read the article closely, it clearly maps out how this situation could easily (and will likely) devolve into more violence due to Israel’s horrendous action.  Israel will then “mow the lawn” again and kill more innocent Palestinians in the name of their security, despite the fact they will have caused the situation to begin in the first place.

Already many of the PA’s 140,000 civil servants have had their pay cut by around 40 percent

Gosh, why would 140k people be angry about their pay being cut nearly in half by an occupying government that just killed more than 2,000 of their people?  But remember everyone, it’s Israel that is being treated terribly by the Palestinians and not the other way around.  Just listen to their leader.  If Netanyahu wasn’t busy lying about the non-existent nuclear threat of Iran, he would be able to lie to you about the threat of Palestinians.

’16 GOP Hopefuls Sucking Adelson’s Teat, Torture Never Worked, Wormhole Travel!?, and Other Tidbits for the Day

GOP Presidential Candidates Puckering Their Lips for Adelson

The GOP hopefuls for the 2016 presidential slot are headed to Las Vegas this week in order to try to get as much of mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s money…excuse me, I meant “speech” (since that what money equals to the Supreme Court), as they can for a possible run.  Strange, though.  I know some GOP voters and I don’t recall the candidates being as interested in their speech as they are Adelson’s “speech”.  I wonder why…

Put a dark cloak on Sheldon Adelson and all Star Wars fans will know who this really is.

He donated more than $90 million to political candidates and super PACs in the last election cycle. His total donations may never be quantified publicly because various politically active groups that operate as nonprofit organizations don’t have to report the sources of their funds.

Remind me again why money is considered speech and why this isn’t an obvious corruption of the idea of democracy?

Brazil’s Internet Neutrality

Many may not be familiar with the idea of Internet neutrality but it is far more important than most think.  Brazil’s government is taking action to make sure access remains equal to all and the potential for inequality is highlighted in the article:

“Without neutrality, the Internet looks more like cable TV, where providers can offer different service packages,” Brazilian law professor Ronaldo Lemo told TechCrunch. “Basic service would include email and the social networks. ‘Premium’ would let you watch videos and listen to music. ‘Super Premium’ would let you download. Today that sounds like an aberration, but without Net neutrality, it’s a possibility.”

Still No Evidence Torture Worked

People are allowed their personal opinions about whether the U.S. was justified in torturing terrorism suspects for information (we weren’t) and how moral that is (it’s not) but there is still one fact that has yet to be proven wrong: it never actually worked in fighting terrorism and, in all likelihood, inspired more terrorism against American targets.

The CIA misled the Justice Department. They told the OLC that it was only after subjecting Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah to “enhanced” techniques that he “identified KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks” and provided information that led to the detention of José Padilla in May 2003. As detailed in the task force’s report, this chronology is false. Abu Zubaydah identified Mohammed as the Sept. 11 mastermind during FBI interrogation long before the CIA was authorized to torture him in late 2002 — and Padilla was actually detained in May 2002, before the CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah. Public record evidence also contradicts the CIA’s claim that its “enhanced” interrogation of Mohammed and several other detainees led to the discovery of a plot to fly hijacked airliners into a skyscraper in Los Angeles and the capture of a 17-member terrorist cell tasked with carrying out the attack.

“Too-Big-to-Fail” Bank’s Advantage Over Smaller Competition

You know how smaller government capitalists like to rave about alleged competition in the market being the key to any and all economic success?  They probably aren’t saying much about this:

The series of research papers, published on Tuesday by the U.S. central bank’s influential New York branch, suggests the biggest banks benefited even after the financial crisis from lower funding and operating costs compared with smaller ones...While the study did not pinpoint the reason big banks can borrow more cheaply, Wall Street critics say it is because investors believe the U.S. government would again rescue them in a panic...Fed economists estimated the funding advantage for the five largest banks over smaller peers to be about 0.31 percent, which they said was statistically significant.

In short, the big banks can still take bigger risks because they are confident taxpayers will save them.  Taxpayers will have to save them because they have no choice and the alternative is far worse.  This is simply another form of the upper echelon being propped up by government at the expense of both smaller competitors and taxpayers.

Travel Through Wormholes

An interesting science article from the BBC appeared on the possibility of traveling through wormholes in space.  Fascinating stuff but it might be just a little difficult for now:

As a very rough approximation, you would need the energy the sun produces over 100 million years to make a wormhole about the size of a grapefruit.

Worthwhile for the imagination, I suppose.  Maybe someone can figure out how to shrink us down to smaller than grapefruits to solve part of the problem.  Where’s Rick Moranis when we need him?