No One Is Taking On Pot Legalization

❝ Why don’t more politicians attempt to make marijuana legalization a national issue?

Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight looked at the polling last week and wondered about it. And the numbers are impressive. As he reports, almost two-thirds of Americans backed legalization in one recent poll, and while Democrats are somewhat more likely to favor it, the gap between the parties is unusually small for a policy question. Enten suspects that a big reason no politician has taken it up as a national issue is that they just haven’t caught up with the rapidly moving shift in public opinion.

❝ That’s possible. But I can think of some other reasons.

RTFA to check out what Jonathan Bernstein thinks are the reasons.

Poisonally, I think chickenshit politicians have chickenshit reasons to rationalize away most progressive action. Followed closely by cowardly reasons they use to rationalize away most action that might jeopardize re-election in the slightest.

Americans Retiring Later, Dying Sooner, Sicker In-Between

❝ The U.S. retirement age is rising, as the government pushes it higher and workers stay in careers longer.

But lifespans aren’t necessarily extending to offer equal time on the beach. Data released last week suggest Americans’ health is declining and millions of middle-age workers face the prospect of shorter, and less active, retirements than their parents enjoyed.

❝ Here are the stats: The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate—a measure of the number of deaths per year—rose 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Society of Actuaries. That’s the first year-over-year increase since 2005, and only the second rise greater than 1 percent since 1980.

At the same time that Americans’ life expectancy is stalling, public policy and career tracks mean millions of U.S. workers are waiting longer to call it quits. The age at which people can claim their full Social Security benefits is gradually moving up, from 65 for those retiring in 2002 to 67 in 2027.

Almost one in three Americans age 65 to 69 is still working, along with almost one in five in their early 70s.

Mail me a penny postcard when you’re confident either of the TweedleDee and TweedleDumb political parties we’re allowed is going to do a damned thing about this. To make it better, that is.

Meanwhile, read the rest of the article. Then go find some independent organization that tries from the grassroots on up to change this crap situation for the better. Hint: it probably won’t be someone with the word “Party” in the last half of their name.

Christianity in America grudgingly moves in opposite directions

A series of Pew Research Center polls released last week shows how ideas about religious belief and morality are increasingly falling along racial and political lines. Fifty-six percent of Americans now say that belief in God isn’t a necessary component of morality, up from 49 percent in 2011. The uptick reflects the wider prevalence of the spiritually unaffiliated, or “nones,” as nearly a quarter of Americans identified as atheist or agnostic in 2011.

The change may be only a 7-point difference. But those differences manifest themselves almost exclusively along political lines.

Having resolved this discussion to the best information available in science and philosophy – at the time – I’ve been a philosophical materialist, a dialectician, an atheist since 1956. Every serious scientific publication I’ve read since has only strengthened that conviction.

While Republicans have roughly held steady in their attitudes — 50 percent say a belief in God is necessary for morality, while 47 percent say it is not — Democrats have shown the most change in their perspectives. Almost two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters now say belief in God is not part of being a good person, compared with 51 percent in 2011.

RTFA for more directions – and direction – the authors seem solid that this portion of their survey speaks most accurately to changes in the United States.

In Ohio, a struggle for the [white] soul of the Democratic Party is playing out

❝ On a sweltering evening in a rural corner of Ohio, the struggle for the soul and identity of the Democratic Party is playing out over wine, meatballs and recriminations about Hillary Clinton’s defeat in last year’s presidential election.

Joe Schiavoni, the former top Democrat in the Ohio state senate, is talking to a crowd at a fundraising event for his fledgling bid to become their next governor. He believes leaders of his party in Washington have lost touch with voters. It’s a familiar refrain among Democrats in a state that helped catapult Republican Donald Trump into the White House in November…

In Ohio, as in other politically competitive “swing” states that Democrats won in 2012 but lost in 2016, Democrats are struggling to come up with a clear message and identity to win back the voters they lost.

❝ Listening to voters is the key to moving forward, some three dozen Democratic Party members across Ohio said in interviews. But there was little consensus on how to win over those voters.

Many of those interviewed said the party’s national leaders have not learned the lessons of last year’s defeat, when many voters rejected the party as too elitist and out of touch with working Americans.

This Reuters article apparently reflects the views of the official Democrat Party – as far as I can see. There is NO mention whatsoever of Black people or Hispanics. Either the party presumes automatic votes or hasn’t looked at anything other than the white chunk of Ohio’s working class.

❝ Angered by last year’s defeats up and down the ballot in Ohio, a group of political consultants circulated a memo to every member of the state party’s executive committee in December.

The memo, which has not been previously reported, lambastes the party leadership for the “electoral carnage” of 2016.

This memo at least acknowledges the inherent racism of ignoring questions affecting Black workers and the Black community in Ohio. It makes no mention of Hispanic workers or community.

11% of Ohio registered voters are Black. Almost 2% are Latino. That’s a lot of folks to take for granted.

Republicans sing, “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be college graduates!”

❝ Most Republicans think colleges are bad for the country, and the vast majority think the news media is too, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. The Pew study, conducted from June 8 to 18 among more than 2,000 respondents, found that Democrats and Republicans are growing substantially more divided in their opinions on public institutions.

❝ According to the survey results released Monday, 58 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have had a negative impact on the nation — the first time a majority of Republicans have thought colleges are bad for the country. As recently as 2015, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country, but by 2016 those results split to 43 percent positive and 45 percent negative.

On the other side of the aisle, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they think colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, holding steady with past years’ results…

❝ The partisan divide was even sharper when it came to the media. Only 10 percent of Republicans thought the media had a positive effect on the way things are going in the US.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have a positive view of the news media’s impact on the nation — an 11-point increase since August 2016…

❝ Despite the widening partisan gap, however, Pew reports that the public’s overall views on the effect of institutions on the nation are relatively unchanged. Polarization may have increased, but the uptick in Democrats’ positive views balance out Republicans’ increasingly negative ones.

Nice to know that confidence in constitutional democracy, republican representation, outweighs ideological stupid.

American Sophistry at its Political Zenith

I typify this as American sophistry at its political zenith for obvious reasons – if you’ve read about and understand the formation and foundations of sophistry. How American politicians turned it into the rationale for every copout foisted upon the body politic.

Life on one side. Death on the other. And it needn’t matter which side takes which position. That’s what needs to be understood. Obviously the best Congressional solution eventually lies between the two. Pick a war in the last 70 years!

Idjits.

Thanks, gocomics.org

The Big Lie That Republicans Call Healthcare Reform

❝ The Senate health-care bill is a blatantly cynical and political plan to reward the rich, squeeze the poor and give Republicans the chance to claim they protected the middle class — or at least those in the middle class who aren’t too sick.

❝ The Republican campaign to repeal Obamacare was always based on a false promise (okay, a lie): that it was possible for all Americans to have better, cheaper medical care without raising taxes or reducing the incomes of doctors and the profits of hospitals and drug companies.

The reality, as the Senate’s Republican caucus came to understand, is something quite different: You can’t lower health-care costs or extend coverage for some people without raising the taxes or premiums of everyone else. It’s a zero-sum game.

❝ Actually, that statement is not exactly true. In a country that spends roughly twice as much as other advanced countries for mediocre results, it would be possible to restructure the system to give most people more for less. But, alas, the Senate bill does almost nothing to restructure the way medical care is delivered, how much is consumed and how it is priced, because to do so would have meant taking on the business interests that the Republicans are counting on to finance their reelection.

Instead, what we get is a financial shell game.

RTFA. Lots of detail about the finances and financial requirements of managing a reasonable healthcare system for all. Even a suggestion on how Democrats might fight for this as a right – not a privilege as Republicans would have it.

Yes, there are beaucoup Dems who remember where they came from. They’re just not in charge. I have as little confidence in the Democrat Establishment nationally as I have contempt for the Republicans. I think they’ve been dining on the same gravy train for too many years.

Nope. It’s up the Progressive grassroots types who supported Bernie to figure out how to join with honest Liberals still stuck into the Democratic Party – to register voters, register the disaffected who’ve given up after decades of being ignored – and fightback against the Republican Party, the greediest bastards in our narrow political system and the fools who support them.

All [Robot] Hands on Deck!

❝ Autonomous ships will be great. Doing away with sailors will make the high seas safer and cleaner.


No humans neededGlyn Kirk/AFP

❝ It sounds like a ghost story: A huge cargo vessel sails up and down the Norwegian coast, silently going about its business, without a captain or crew in sight. But if all goes as planned, it’s actually the future of shipping.

❝ Last week, Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, a Norwegian maritime-technology firm, and Yara ASA, a fertilizer manufacturer, announced a partnership to build the world’s first fully autonomous cargo containership. Manned voyages will start in 2018, and in 2020 the Yara Birkeland will set sail all on its own. It’s the beginning of a revolution that should transform one of the world’s oldest and most conservative industries — and make global shipping safer, faster and cleaner than it’s ever been…

By one consultant’s estimate, moreover, carrying sailors accounts for 44 percent of a ship’s costs. That’s not just salaries: crew quarters, air-conditioning units, a bridge (which typically requires heavy ballast to ensure a ship’s balance) and other amenities take up valuable weight and space that might otherwise be used for cargo. And that dead weight contributes to a bigger problem: Maritime shipping accounts for about 2.5 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Barring a radical change, those emissions are set to surge in the decades ahead.

❝ All this explains why eliminating a crew and its costs has been a long-time goal for companies and governments around the world. The most advanced effort so far has come from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which rolled out a virtual-reality prototype of an autonomous ship in 2014. According to the company, the ship will be 5 percent lighter, and burn up to 15 percent less fuel, than a comparable vessel with humans aboard.

All the questions required of industries capable of full automation, essential automation, apply. They must begin with what is to be done to aid the human beings made redundant by the qualitative change which – after all – makes this industry more profitable, less expensive to operate?

The capitalists of Europe will probably follow guidance from enlightened geopolitical segments within their borders. Nations with at least a social-democratic bent. I would expect the same from China and those Asian nations with the courage to follow…perhaps, even lead.

Here in the United States? Silly question, eh? We live in a nation led by a political caste almost completely under the control of the least caring profiteers in the world. Short-sighted and arrogant, they really don’t care a rat’s ass about anyone fitting the broadest definition of proletarian. If you don’t own industry, you shall be politically subservient. From church to Congress, the Free Press to teachers who think they’re a 19th Century guild, obedience is the construct that counts. And Americans are, if anything, obedient cogs in the economy.