The Widdershins

Good Thursday, Widdershins.

I am finally feeling well enough to attempt a post, although I make no promises regarding either content or coherence.  There’s still enough Flexeril on board to color my world in new and exciting ways on an ongoing basis, and this somewhat blunted state of consciousness has come in rather handy while I watched the cable news over the past week.

War on women?  What war on women? Republicans love women, and they don’t mind saying so.  They also don’t mind demonstrating their feelings in oh, so many ways, either.  Honestly, I think that it has finally occured to someone down at the RNC that women have had it, but they are boxed in rather tightly at this stage of the game, so loud and plaintive protestation is probably their best bet.  For example, women really have no need of equal pay.  If we would only get married, there would be no such necessity.  That the statistics that show more and more women becoming the primary wage earner is a non-starter –  the Republican party loves us and wants us to know how much they care.  Phyllis Schlafly emerged from mothballs to advise us that if women were to be equally compensated, they would never find a husband.  Check this out from Huffington Post:

Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don’t have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

See?  A real woman like Phyllis knows how this works, and the Republicans love us and want us to be just as happy as Phyllis, so we need to brush up on our hypergamy skills and all will be well.  If we end up outearning our spouse, well then it’s out own fault for practicing hypogamy.

The issue of “personhood” is rustling around a number of states.  Georgia, North Carolina, Montana, Michigan, and Colorado have all toyed with the concept of bestowing full rights upon a zygote, which would end forever abortion, select birth control methods, and IVF.   This concept is so extreme that it has failed on every ballot measure, including the state of Mississippi.  Yet time and again, the concept bubbles up in state houses around the nation because Republicans love women.  Without us there would be no little zygotes to manipulate, so then what?   Republicans gave us their hearts, so now we owe them our zygotes.

Republicans are always being accused of loathing workers.  This certainly is not true in the case of their staffers.  We all know about Newt Gingrich, and he explained the whole Calista scenario by his love for his country, rather than his love of adultrous relationships.  But hey – love is love, after all.  Rep. Vance McAllister of Louisiana, who was backed by the Duck Dynasty folks, was caught on camera necking with a staffer in a burst of patriotic fervor.   They are married, but unfortunately not to each other.  Therefore, you would think that this rock-ribbed Republican, abstemious Baptist member of the House of Representatives would do the right thing and resign, or  even end up being pushed out of office Weiner-style.  You would be dead wrong in both instances.   McAllister vows to stay in office, although the staffer is gone – likely because he cares too much for her to see her embarrassed.   My only hope is that this episode will jog the memories of the Pelican state residents, as David Vitter is now running for Governor – and we know that he loves women, too.

Michael Hayden must love Dianne Feinstein very much.  He is über concerned about her current state of mind with regard to the latest report generated by the Senate Intelligence Committee regatding Hayden’s CIA methods of – er, information gathering   He shared with Fox News his assessment that she is just too emotional to properly process the stated facts, and I must assume that he cares too much to see her so embarrassed, much like Rep. McAllister and his squeeze  staffer.  What a guy!  Fortunately for Feinstein, the CIA will review all of these materials thoroughly prior to declassifying them as per the decision of the SIC, which will likely save her from further humiliation.

In a much more platonic sense, former Governor Jeb Bush would like for everyone to stop ranting about illegal immigration, and see it for what it is – an act of pure love.  As a Florida resident, I am fully aware that our local business purely love illegal immigrants.  They work for a pittance and never complain.  I strongly suspect that should these unfortunate migrants attain citizenship they will promptly be replaced by a fresh crop of folks who think that $5 per hour is a fortune.  Should Jeb decide to run in 2016, it should be absolutely fascinating to watch him, fluent in Spanish, attempt to sell this concept to the right-wingers that flock to the polls by the busload to vote in the primaries.  The very same folks that Karl Rove convinced to turn out in droves may be the very ones that put a wrench into things for Jeb, as they are firmly convinced that anyone with a slightly darker complexion is likely Al Queda and has come here to kill us and take our food stamps.  I will enjoy watching that ever so much.  I have suffered through eight years of him as a Governor, and eight years of his brother as a President, plus twelve years of their father as VP and President.  Added together, that comes out to spending nearly three decades in the Bushes, and  that’s a long time to be surrounded by so much love.

 

And so, Widdershins, we are awash in Republican love.   Keep your life vests on and your heads up while we wait for the next tsunami of tenderness – it’s probably not that far off shore  and it’s heading our way.

This is an open thread.

Crazy People 2and I’ll continue that to say still in charge in Louisiana, that is.  And that may hold for the entire Southland as far as I know.  And the reason I write that is because the Louisiana Legislature, in its collective wisdom, decided not to repeal the state’s sodomy law, even though those laws were found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the case of Lawrence v Texas.  Now, although the Lawrence case involved a gay couple, it affected gay and straight couples and what they choose to do or not do in their bedrooms.  Truthfully though, how these types of laws were acted on was a different story, affecting gay folks more than our heterosexual friends.

Now even though these types of laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supremes in 2003, some locations still had laws on the books regarding “sodomy” and as even as late as last year, a group of men in Baton Rouge were set up and arrested and the police used the illegal sodomy statute.

As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature.

Now, the district attorney in Baton Rouge had the good sense to decide not to prosecute these guys because:  no crime had been committed.

So that brings us to the present day and the current session of the Louisiana lege.  State representative Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, put forth a bill to strike the law, RS (Revised Statute) 14:89 from the books.  R.S. 14:89 reads as follows:

§89.  Crime against nature

A.  Crime against nature is the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex or with an animal, except that anal sexual intercourse between two human beings shall not be deemed as a crime against nature when done under any of the circumstances described in R.S. 14:41, 14:42, 14:42.1 or 14:43.  Emission is not necessary; and, when committed by a human being with another, the use of the genital organ of one of the offenders of whatever sex is sufficient to constitute the crime.

B.(1)  Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than two thousand dollars, imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than five years, or both.

(2)  Whoever violates the provisions of this Section with a person under the age of eighteen years shall be fined not more than fifty thousand dollars, imprisoned at hard labor for not less than fifteen years nor more than fifty years, or both.

(3)  Whoever violates the provisions of this Section with a person under the age of fourteen years shall be fined not more than seventy-five thousand dollars, imprisoned at hard labor for not less than twenty-five years nor more than fifty years, or both.

C.  It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this Section that, during the time of the alleged commission of the offense, the defendant was a victim of trafficking of children for sexual purposes as provided in R.S. 14:46.3(E).

Amended by Acts 1975, No. 612, §1; Acts 1982, No. 703, §1; Acts 2010, No. 882, §1; Acts 2012, No. 446, §1; Acts 2013, No. 83, §1.

NOTE:  R.S. 14-41,42, 42.1 and 43 deal with different categories of rape

Now the bill was successfully passed out of committee last week and thus went to the House floor. It was then defeated on the floor by 27-66.  Eleven members of  the House chose not to vote.  Real courage there.  Said Rep. Smith:  “I never thought it would pass, but I thought it would do better,” said Smith. “Some of the folks who voted to get it out of committee voted against it on the floor.”   Again, real courage.

So what happened between the bill being favorably passed out of committee and then being so soundly defeated in the full House?  Well, the Louisiana Family Forum sent a letter to each and every legislator.  The letter  in part:

urging them to vote against the proposal, claiming that teenagers would be less protected from sexual predators if they went through with the repeal. They also said the bill would put the public health at risk.

“Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral,” stated the letter to lawmakers from the Louisiana Family Forum.

The forum describes itself this way:

  • The organization supports Louisiana’s covenant marriage law and opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.
  • Tax ID: 72-1416555
  • Nonprofit category: Interdisciplinary Research
  • Founder: Tony Perkins

Ah yes, the infamous 501(3)(c) groups and I’d love to know what that “Interdisciplinary Research” involves since they further describe themselves this way:

Louisiana Family Forum is an organization committed to defending faith, freedom and the traditional family in the great state of Louisiana! -

Our Mission…

To persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.

Our Core Values…

God’s equal interest in all areas of human experience.

We believe there is no part of the human experience that does not hold God’s intense interest. As Creator of humanity, He is fully and equally interested in the totality of that experience.

The virtues and benefits of life-long faithful marriage.

We believe that life-long, faithful marriage is the first Human institution ordained by God and therefore, the basic, irreducible building block of society. We believe the value of marriage in a community will determine that community’s health, happiness, productivity and safety.

The sacredness of human sexuality.

We believe that human sexuality is a very wonderful and powerful treasure shared between a man and woman. It finds its proper place within the protective confines of life-long marriage.

And, they even have one of those infamous “action centers” where you can obtain a scorecard on how each member of the lege voted and whether those votes met with the approval of the forum.

Well, those letters apparently did the trick and 66 legislators were cowed into submission.  I think the part that cracked me up the most was this:  claiming that teenagers would be less protected from sexual predators if they went through with the repeal. They also said the bill would put the public health at risk.

Now readers, I think we just went through an exercise last week with the “kissing Congressman” who asked for the prayers of voters and showed how much of a Christian and family man he was while playing the game.  It’s bullshite and when you think about the number of lawyers in that legislative body who know that the statute is unconstitutional and yet still voted to retain it on the books, the mind boggles.

My fervent hope now is that some poor unsuspecting soul gets busted on this.  It will never be prosecuted but then I hope he or she can somehow sue the shit out of the state and gets a nice sum out of it.  In Louisiana folks have a tendency to say “Well at least we’re not Mississippi.”  All things considered, it may be a toss up.

And Louisiana isn’t the only state to still have these laws on the books.  As HuffPo and Mother Jones pointed out, there are still 13 other states that have these laws on the books, knowing that they cannot be enforced.

 

 

 

Louisiana Family Forum is an organization committed to defending faith, freedom and the traditional family in the great state of Louisiana! – See more at: http://www.lafamilyforum.org/about/#sthash.JQnMyQ6w.dpuf
Louisiana Family Forum is an organization committed to defending faith, freedom and the traditional family in the great state of Louisiana! – See more at: http://www.lafamilyforum.org/about/#sthash.JQnMyQ6w.dpuf

Louisiana Family Forum is an organization committed to defending faith, freedom and the traditional family in the great state of Louisiana!

Good afternoon Widdershins.

Whatever it is, she's the only one who sees it...

Whatever it is, she’s the only one who sees it…

This past week I recalled Michele Bachmann making a big deal out of being a “constitutional conservative” during the 2012 Presidential campaign. At the time the term “constitutional conservative” didn’t really mean much to me because, well, it was Michele Bachmann.

I was reminded of mis-Michele by another paragon of conservative thought — former Senator and Heritage Foundation President, Jim DeMinted. He, like Bachmann, used the term “constitutional conservative” in the context of the miraculous eradication of slavery not through any efforts of government or a war costing 750,000 lives, but some “beyond the mortal coil mysticism” of the Founders.

My interest was piqued. Come to find out, “constitutional conservative” is like the Carol Burnett earlobe tug — it’s a signal. It‘s code for, “While I don’t like to say too many crazy things out loud, you can bet I’m thinking them.”

Constitutional conservatism seems to have sprung up in 2009 from the fertile mind of a Hoover Institute Fellow and first published in the Wall Street Journal. While the theory doesn’t come right out and denounce democracy, it is clear there is little sympathy for those “other types of people” who are endangering the liberty of those purchasing vast quantities of SPF creams.

Values and Viagra both start with "V"...

Values and Viagra both start with “V”…

Those “other” people are defined as anyone who might have extra melanin, fail to own property, fail to be rich, fail to enjoy a panoply of tax write-offs, fail to adhere to a biblical definition of marriage, fail to forego contraception, fail to believe in corporate personhood, and fail to believe in full-fledged fundamental Protestantism. If that list is a bit overwhelming for you, it can be succinctly abbreviated: Liberals — the scariest people on the planet.

For those using the secret decoder term “constitutional conservative” it seems to be a mélange of conflation with a heaping helping of disassembly. Constitutional conservatives think of America as a sort of ruined paradise — an Eden divinely bestowed upon chosen Americans by a group of demigods who took the earthly form of Founding Fathers.

This is why Bachmann could say, with a straight face, that the Founders “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,” blind to the fact that George Washington held slaves and Thomas Jefferson was an innovator in the world of slave torment and slave labor.

People who espouse this constitutional interpretation have to add a heaping portion of the Declaration of Independence to any analysis in order to insert thoughts such as “natural rights” since the Constitution doesn’t contain any such provisions.

Dilbert

Those espousing constitutional conservatism also have no answer for the original divinity of the Founders when it comes to women being second-class non-voting citizens, driving Native Americans from their land, or enslaving African-Americans as a matter of course through protectionism that was a boon to slave-owners. Their greatest obstacle is trying to explain why a divinely inspired document like the Constitution would have provisions for changing it through amendment. Best I recall there was no amendment process in the Ten Commandments.

These are some of the more granular inconsistencies — so let’s swing for the fences. The very North Star Founders who these constitutional conservatives point to were adamantly, diametrically opposed to the ideas they are credited with championing. An ironic situation akin to electing Einstein president of the Flat Earth Society.

The constitutional conservatives’ beliefs around dismantling and reducing the federal government resemble an America governed by the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles, national government was extraordinarily weak — it could not tax, mint coins, or pay collective debts. The result was an economic disaster and several states were near revolt. The failure of the Articles led to a constitutional convention culminating in a strong central government.

Those favoring the predominance of states and who saw a strong government as a prelude to tyranny were vehemently opposed to the Founders‘ call for a Constitution. So there you have it — the hyperbolic rhetoric of the Tea Partiers is based upon an unadulterated reverence for Founding Fathers who fought against the very philosophy the Tea Party is espousing with constitutional conservatism.

Rewriting history...

Rewriting history…

As with so many things where the Tea Party is concerned, it is based upon a common misperception where the perception then becomes reality. A trick also utilized by Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Camar Rouge, and the Taliban — just to name a few.

Even the event supposedly igniting the Tea Party, the Rick Santelli rant five weeks after the President’s inauguration — was fully and totally based on something that did not happen. Santelli had his knickers in a bunch over a supposed mortgage bailout that no one had talked about, no official had ever proposed, and quite simply, to this day has never happened, but it was a perceived fear that became a Tea Party reality.

So if the inception of the Tea Party was predicated on something that never happened and they have a governing philosophy of constitutional conservatism that stands for the opposite of what they believe, it’s easy to see how they can rewrite history that never was.

This is an open thread.

Fredster:

Our Madamab is feeling puny with  some type of respiratory crud like many of us have had recently so I found this hysterical play that she did back in 2009.  Some things just remain the same.  Enjoy!

Originally posted on Oooh, nuance!:

Not Again!

Not Again!

Note: Thanks to commenter jules, for the inspiration for this play!

THE SCENE: Buckingham Palace. HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH and her consort, PRINCE PHILIP, are lying in bed in their elaborate, gilded suite. It’s been a long day – they’ve just spent it with America’s First Couple, BARACK and MICHELLE OBAMA. They are both exhausted, but not ready to go to sleep just yet. They are wearing monogrammed, silk pajamas with royal crests on them. Reading glasses and old-fashioned nightcaps adorn their royal heads. HMQE is reading The Guardian, while PP is reading OK!.)

HMQE (acerbically, putting down the newspaper): Any good pictures of Britney today, darling?

PP (absorbed): Hmmmmm?

(PP looks over at his wife, reads her mood, and puts down the magazine.)

PP (sympathetically): What is it, darling? Are you still upset about today?

HMQE (bursting out with repressed frustration): Of…

View original 879 more words

Good Sunday, Widdershins.  For the first time in over a week, I can sit up long enough to manage a post.   Two back to back episodes of sciatica have flattened me, and the muscle relaxants finsihed me off.  My heating pad has been my new best friend for almost two weeks.  I won;t say that my back feels great,  but it is ever so slowly improving. This next week brings us major holidays from two great traditions.   Yom Kippur is Tuesday, and the Christian faiths commence Holy Week with today’s observance of Palm Sunday.  Let’s just say it’s a good time for reflection in general, so let’s take a break from the messy world news and enjoy those songs that help us relax and reflect.  There are literally thousands of them, so post your favorites along with anything else that might come to mind. Thanks for everyone’s patience.  I hope that my back feels well enough to be coherent for a post in Thursday.  Love and light to all.

(1) Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major

 

(2) Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

 

(3)  Down To the River To Pray – Allison Krauss

 

(4) Foggy Dew – Sínead O’Connor and the Chieftains

 

(5) Lord of the Rings Medley – Lindsay Stirling

A couple dance at French Quarter Fest (frm Nola.com)

A couple dance at Fr. Quarter Fest (frm Nola.com)

Good Saturday to you Widdershins.  Yes, if it’s a Saturday in April in Nola, then it’s time for the French Quarter Festival.  Officially, they say the Festival is “to promote the Vieux Carré and the City of New Orleans through high quality special events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of this unique city, contribute to the economic well being of the community, and instill increased pride in the people of New Orleans.”.  But in actuality, it’s another chance to have a big party.  I mean, you have to have something to do in nola after Carnival, but before Jazz Fest.  And with the Festival falling during Lent, but before Easter, there will be plenty of food on hand and if you observe meatless Fridays, there’s always plenty of seafood to enjoy.

Oh well, enough of that.  Let’s take a look at some of the unusual, odd or funny
things I’ve come across on the web recently.

Shoe stabber found guilty of murder

Ana Trujillo, the woman in Houston who was charged with murdering her boyfriend by stiletto heel was found guilty. I mean, she only bopped him on the head and in the face twenty-five times or so.  Her attorney tried for a self defense strategy, but I believe the twenty-five strikes with the 5 and 1/2 heel kind of blew that up in the water.  In the penalty phase the jury gave her life in prison.

“I never meant to hurt him,” Trujillo said before the judge made the jury’s decision final. “It was never my intent. I loved him. I wanted to get away. I never wanted to kill him.”

Well maybe if you had stopped at, oh, say, fifteen whacks with the shoe.  Just sayin’.

The prosecutor asked for life while Ms Trujillo’s attorney asked for a sentence of two years.  He said she acted “in the heat of sudden passion”.

Shades of the “kissing Congressman”!

Well this one actually happened before the video of Congress critter Vance McAllister getting all friendly and such with his “scheduler”/wife of best friend.  But perhaps this could be a cautionary tale for the congressman.

It seems that the good Rev Bobby Davis told his congregation of the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut that he wanted his flock to stay past the end of services so he could have a chat with them.  Probably feeling that confession was good for the soul, the rev wanted to fess up to something he had done “a long time ago”.  Indeed, the reverend confessed that he had cheated on his wife of 50 years.  In the excitement of the congregation shouting out their forgiveness to him, the pastor fell to his knees, keeled over and died.

‘We were shouting, “We forgive you, we love you,”‘ Stovall said. I held his head as he lay on the floor… Our congregation is hurting now.’

‘The stress of all of it – he had a heart attack,’ Stovall continued. ‘I held his head as he lay on the floor… Our congregation is hurting now.”

Davis, a certified marriage and family therapist, served as pastor since he founded the church with his wife in 1967. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last June.

The church website said that his wife Christine ‘has worked alongside her husband for over forty-five years, teaching the Word of God…  She is a dynamic teacher whose style and wisdom compliments that of her husband to the extent that they almost always minister together in some capacity.’

 

Maybe sometimes it’s better to do a silent confession, just between you and your “higher power”, whoever that may be.

“Grandma wants dollar bills for WHAT?”

Well it seems that the manager/director and social workers at one Long Island nursing home had an activity other than Bingo for the residents to enjoy.  They decided to bring in some what the NY Post called “low rent Chippendales” to entertain the folks.  And this didn’t go over well with the son of one of the residents.  He expressed his outrage to the nursing home administrators who he says ignored him so he filed a suit against the nursing home.

The son of one resident, 86-year-old Bernice Youngblood, was shocked when he showed up for a visit and found a picture of his mom stuffing dollar bills — which are supposed to be locked away in her commissary account — into a dancer’s briefs.

“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],” the suit states.

I dunno, but if that’s a pic of Bernice on the Post website (and it is), she sure seemed to know where to stuff those dollar bills.  The suit continued:

“Bernice Youngblood has lived 85 years as a traditional Baptist, hard-working, lady . . . And now she has been defiled,” Ray (the attorney) said.

 

Now if Bernice is in the nursing home on Medicaid as so many of the residents are, I can see our Republican brothers and sisters getting all worked up because they’ll say it’s an abuse of Medicaid funds as Medicaid does provide a monthly stipend for the residents’ personal use.

Some assorted youtube clips

 

 Ronan Sinatra uh Farrow likes Koch

or at least the viewers on his MSNBC show say they do.  I confess that I have yet to watch the show.

Dutch Teevee reporter interviews…well someone with a big medal, and acts a little too nonchalant.

A youtube of New Yorkers with a rat on the subway and no it’s not politicians.  I like the guy sitting by the door who ends up just squatting on the seat while he uses his phone.

Finally, here’s about a minute of baby sloths “squeaking”.  It’s just cute.

Okay Widdershins, hope you had a great one today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good afternoon Widdershins.

My general rule is to steer away from stories of a local flavor since they represent limited interest, but there are exceptions. This is one of them since this story perfectly illustrates a point worth considering.

Coal Miner

Without the intricacies and political intrigue, here is the gist: The Kentucky General Assembly just met. During the session, a law was passed at the behest of the coal barons to reduce the number of yearly mine inspections. The mine owners waxed poetic and yearned for a time when they had a friendlier, more cooperative relationship with mine safety inspectors — unlike the overzealous Obama mine inspectors.

The crescendo of this kinder, gentler love affair sprinkled with coal pixie dust was 2006. It was the halcyon days where mine inspectors could be counted upon to do the “right thing” when it came to the owner’s quest to dislodge those clumps of black gold. Sadly, it wasn’t such a joyous time for the miners.

By comparison, in 2006 almost two and a half times more miners were killed than in 2012, the most recent year available for comparison. According to the mine owners, the “Obama War on Coal” was rampaging in 2012 — even though more miners were working in 2012 than 2006. In addition, there were more injuries in 2006 than in 2012 when those jack-booted state inspectors were spending too much time nosing around in mines. Since unions were run out of eastern Kentucky, mine inspectors are the only people who understand safety applies to miners’ well-being more than it does to owners’ profiteering.

Placing your tag in case you don't come back...

Placing your tag in case you don’t come back…

Now switch your mind’s eye to Congress where coincidentally Rep. Hal Rogers, (5th KY) Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee holds a hearing about funding for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).  MSHA is responsible for enforcing mine-safety laws at the federal level. Rogers represents eastern Kentucky where the state has just curtailed state mine safety inspections.

Testifying before the Appropriations Committee, the mouthpiece of the Kentucky-based Coal Operators and Associates urged Congress to gut MSHA since “there is a complete secondary layer of inspection at the state level and states do things the right way.” The spokesman urged the reining in of MSHA since it was full of adversarial “rule sticklers” and couldn’t be counted on to be the “friendly” agency of 2006 gone by. When asked about instances of the adversarial nature, the spokesman gave not one example — not one — because conveniently, “operators fear retaliation” from MSHA.

Now keep both the Congressional and the Kentucky legislative hearings in mind as I tell you, both these hearings took place in front of the sobbing widows and children of dead miners. Dead miners like those killed in the 2006 explosion and fire in the Darby mine in Harlan County. Good old 2006, a time when the grief over killed miners could be eased by the friendliness of the infrequently visiting mine inspectors.

Coal awaiting its trip to China or India before it makes it way back by way of atmospheric carbon particulates...

Coal awaiting its trip to China or India before it makes it way back by way of atmospheric carbon particulates…

The agonizingly wretched part of this whole story isn’t just maximizing profits for coal operators. This whole charade is about making economically precarious mines more marketable to be sold to “wildcat local operators.” Large, publicly traded companies are reacting to the steep decline in coal demand by selling their mines to shoestring capitalized local operators. Fewer safety regulations equates to more marketability — no one wants a gift that eats.

Here’s the learning — the central motivation isn’t about miners living or dying or even mining itself — it is about reducing a budgetary line item at the expense of miners’ safety in order to make the mines more marketable and ultimately more valuable.

As repugnant as this example is, just look at the headlines in any newspaper. GM knew about the Ninety Cent ($0.90) ignition spring problem as early as 2001. Toyota knew about its sudden acceleration problem and decided to pay the settlements. The financial markets knew about the oncoming 2008 financial meltdown three years before it happened. As you are reading this, proprietary colleges owned by hedge funds are sentencing veterans and unsuspecting students to decades of exorbitant student loans. The list is endless or so it seems.

DilbertThere was a time when everyone believed in corporate responsibility, but it has been replaced by “moral hazard” — meaning a business person will take risks because the ultimate cost will not be felt by the individual or the company. In other words, because of insurance or quick profits or bailouts, executives will now gladly bite the hand feeding them. The time when corporations could be implicitly trusted to do the right thing has long passed.  This is but another all-too-often glossed over similarity to the Gilded Age.

What we have now are corporate oligarchs enslaved to “Occam’s Razor” — “After all other possibilities have been exhausted, the simplest explanation is most likely correct.” As a scientific postulate Occam’s Razor is true, but only if and only when, you have exhausted “all other possibilities.”

Occam's Razor

Today, whether it be the coal barons blaming meddlesome inspectors, GM fretting about a .90 cent ignition spring, or Wall Streeters banking their billions before an implosion, no one took the time to look at other possibilities — they merely took the simplest rhetorical answer and draped themselves in it. More likely than not, that rhetorical shroud consisted of “it’s the government’s fault” or “everyone else does it” or “what will it hurt to cut this corner?”  All quick and efficient enough to forestall any honest policy discussions.

We have one party that is an active, willing participant in this deceit and the other is just as guilty by acts of omission.  At the end of the day it makes little difference as to the party since the results are the same. Until our policies are dictated by something more than an intellectually corrupted and bastardized Occam’s Razor, we might as well enjoy being played for unknowing and trusting dullards.

This is an open thread.

 

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