Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Obviously it's different because this time it's OUR state

I don't like to spend too much time pointing out examples of Republican hypocrisy because it's so common that there just isn't very much sport in it, but this takes bald-faced duplicity to a whole new level.  Senator James Inhofe and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma both voted against federal relief funds for victims of hurricane Sandy.  But of course they're all for federal money for victims of the Oklahoma tornado.  Because, well, it's Oklahoma, and Oklahoma is totally more deserving of federal relief money than New Jersey is.

Oh, Coburn is insisting that the money for Oklahoma disaster relief be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.  So... because he's going to take the money for his state away from someone else, that makes it OK?  Do these people ever stop to think about what they're saying?

Oh, and Inhofe is the Senate's foremost climate change denier.

Let's take stock, shall we?  Senator James Inhofe wants to 1) not do anything about climate change (because he thinks anthropological climate change is a hoax) 2) deny federal disaster relief to victims of extreme weather events unless 3) those victims happen to be in his home state.  And senator Coburn pretty much feels the same way except that in addition he wants to make sure that the money comes out of someone else's pocket.

It is taking all the self control I can muster not to render into words my feelings about these two senators and all of the citizens of the great state of Oklahoma who voted for them.  But were I to succumb to the temptation, at least one of those words would begin with the letters F and U.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We now return to our regularly scheduled Republican hypocrisy

Well, that didn't last long.  Republican lawmakers are back to their traditional (which is to say idiotic and hypocritical) ways in North Carolina, where the state senate commerce committee has just unanimously approved a bill that would prohibit car makers from selling their products in the state except through third-party dealerships.

Two passages from the article really stand out:
[The bill's] sponsor, state Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Henderson ... said the goal is to prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers. What makes it “unfair competition” as opposed to plain-old “competition”—something Republicans are typically inclined to favor—is not entirely clear.
But it becomes a lot clearer when you read this:
Robert Glaser, president of the dealers association, told the News & Observer that the law prohibiting Tesla sales isn’t just about his industry’s self-interest. Pointing to the Tesla representatives at a recent hearing, he said, “You tell me they’re gonna support the little leagues and the YMCA?”
If ever there was proof that Republican really don't hear themselves talking, this is it.  Their best argument for passing a law prohibiting competition is that the competition may not spend the money it makes in the way that they like.  Isn't that supposed to be the whole point of the free market, that people (of which corporations are now a proper subset) get to spend their money in the ways that they like and not in the ways that you like?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stop the presses! A republican has done something sensible!

John McCain has introduced a bill that would encourage (not require) cable companies to offer unbundled services.  It's all carrot, no stick: cable companies currently enjoy compulsory copyright licensing of broadcast channels.  McCain's bill makes that license contingent on offering a-la-carte channel selection.

Of course, a better (and less hypocritical) approach would be to remove the regulatory barriers to entry that prevent competitors from entering the market.  (Hey, a bot can dream.)  But short of that, this is better than nothing.

I thought this was noteworthy because it is so rare that a Republican does something that isn't completely moronic.  I'm sure it's not unprecedented, but I can't remember the last time it happened.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The only thing that surprises me is that this hasn't happened sooner

Or maybe it has and we just haven't heard about it.  A gang of thieves stole $45 million in a coordinated attack on ATM machines worldwide.  This surprises me not at all.  The world's financial systems are for the most part hopelessly insecure because they are (again for the most part) based on protocols that were invented in the 1950s.  I became personally and painfully aware of how deeply broken the system is when a bank lost a very substantial sum of my money in 2008.  Since then I have become even more painfully aware of how deeply entrenched the brokenness is when my own efforts to fix this problem crashed and burned on the shoals of protectionist regulations and other very effective barriers to entry erected by the banking industry to keep meddling newcomers like me off of their turf.

The situation is bad.  It's really, really bad.  And it's going to keep getting worse because the banks have no incentive to fix the problem.  They aren't going to face any competition.  Their barriers to entry are too effective.  And they aren't really taking on any risk either because as long as their losses are big enough they just get the government to bail them out.  Because, well, they basically own the government.

I really wonder what the end game is going to be here, because I don't see how the status quo can possibly be sustainable.  Banking is supposed to be about capital formation and risk management, but it has now become an industry of arbitrage and legalized fraud.  Banks have become parasites, sucking the life blood from the economy and contributing nothing.

The thing about parasites is that they can only grow so much before they kill the host.

I'm not a bigot! I'm not I'm not I'm NOT!

States are legalizing gay marriage so fast I can hardly keep up any more.  Delaware joined the club on Tuesday, and the Minnesota House approved it today.

Still, some legislators seem not to have gotten the memo.
Opponents argued the bill would alter a centuries-old conception of marriage and leave those people opposed for religious reasons tarred as bigots. 
"We're not. We're not," said Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine. "These are people with deeply held beliefs, including myself."
I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you Mr. Woodward, but just because your beliefs are deeply held doesn't mean they aren't bigoted.  This is the funny thing about bigots: they never think of themselves as bigoted.  How can you possibly be a bigot when God (or logic) is on your side?

Having not a single substantive argument remaining, conservatives are now arguing for gays to be denied their fundamental human right to marry whom they choose on the grounds that the people denying them that right might be tarred as bigots.  The irony is almost too much to bear.  That is the very definition of bigotry!