Guns, Purity, and Compromise

If progressives are ever to enact meaningful gun control, we have to do so lightly, or we’ll never win. Those are just the facts on the ground. And the same applies to all of our policies.

A “pro-life” liberal in a southern seat is preferable to a “pro-life” conservative. A “pro-gun” liberal in a rural western district is preferable to a conservative who has the same blind faith in the second amendment.

Why? Because a “pro-life” liberal in the south can still be a “pro-worker, pro-environment, and pro-universal health care” activist in a key role of lawmaking. That can’t be said of the “pro-life” conservative.

If progressives are ever to achieve our “Blue Wave” dreams of taking back congress in the next round of elections, we have to be realistic. A perfectly pure, azure liberal standard of policy-making simply cannot be applied like a cookie-cutter solution to every race. It can’t even be done district to district, or county to county, or city to town.

Our two-party political platform is like a huge, ugly, dirty old chess game where you have to sacrifice a pawn or two in order to get the queen. Incremental progress is better, and more likely, than landslide victories.

We may well achieve our “Blue Wave” dreams in 2018 and 2020, but it ain’t gonna happen if we only run liberals so perfectly blue that they shit grapes.

The liberal who takes San Francisco will never have San Antonio. The liberal who takes Boulder will never take Colorado Springs…however…there are “mostly liberal” candidates on the interstices who very well might.

It’s vital that we stop our infighting and realized that a “one size fits all” Democrat will never be the solution.

The Helplessness of Capitalism

Anybody else tired of the “what can we do?” hand-wringing about the opioid crisis?  It’s not as if these drugs are smuggled in by Colombian cartels and nothing can be done.  We know exactly who’s making them, but as always, money talks.

This is true for virtually everything in our country, everything from climate change to the gun debate to health care.  Time and time again, regardless of the issue, the big money wins.

This is not a system to brag about.  This so-called “free market” system is failing the vast majority of Americans on every front.

We live in an “Us vs. Them” system, and it’s about time that everyone realized that.  It’s “Us vs. The Rich.”  That’s it.  That’s the fundamental definition of the battle at hand.

Eat the Rich

“This elite group is worth $9.1 trillion, up 18% since last year.” – Forbes

That’s $9.1 trillion divided between about 2200 people.

Poor conservatives are too stupid to realize that they’re digging their own graves.

Most believe they’re billionaires in the making.

It’s a safe bet that when working-class Republicans die, they’ll be a few grand in debt, and the collectors will go after their children.

Capitalism works….

Booze is a Hard Drug

I saw this when I was a kid.  It said that each was basically the same, i.e. a bottle of beer was the same as a glass of wine, which is the same as a shot of booze.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

While it may be true in the literal sense, the reality is quite different in practice.

Booze is the hard stuff.  If a person ever develops a drinking problem, the odds are high that it will be related to booze.  Whether it’s delinquency, spousal abuse, or drunk driving, booze is always a much greater factor than beer.

I’ve been seeing advertisements for booze on television lately, which is alarming.  They might as well be advertising for cocaine, or methamphetamine, because the potential for addiction and destructiveness is basically the same.

Seeing booze ads on TV again is a prime example of what I hate about our world: money decides all.  Even if lives are ruined or lost, if it makes money, the money will win.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite.  I love my tequila, but a degree of responsibility is in order here.  Booze is not “just like beer” and to imply as much will place thousands of lives in very real jeopardy.

Pros & Cons, and Professional Cons

President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, recently lost his security clearance.  He was only privy to those highly classified documents for over a year, so what could go wrong?  Anyway, we all know what he was up to: making business deals.

Bet your bottom dollar, Kushner was using his position to leverage new business “arrangements” for himself and his family, which of course includes Trump.

One down, two to go.

And in the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” department, a major gun seller has just decided to stop selling assault rifles.

Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

We all know what this means: it means we need to stop by Dick’s and buy ourselves something nice.

Rest assured the gun nuts will be “up in arms” about this so-called “assault” on their freedom to be insane…so we have to counter their bullshit by planting as many of our own daisies as possible.

Come on!  Let’s be a Dick about it.

The “Sheriff of Nottingham” Party

Republicans exist for one reason: to serve power.  If you do not have power, and you vote for the Republicans, you are digging your own grave.

Some…or even most rank-and-file Republicans have deluded themselves into thinking otherwise…but I’m convinced that most Republicans, especially the big dogs in the political arena, know exactly what they’re doing.

They pick on the poor, and bow to the rich…and that gets them off.

Occasionally there’s a rift in paradise where we’ll see a conflict between one business giant versus another.  In these cases, it’s easy to see which business wields more power, because that’s the business that the GOP will defend with all the pomp and circumstance at their disposal.

Recently, the lieutenant governor of Georgia tweeted this: “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA,” Cagle tweeted.

Note: this is a government official telling a private business what it should do, and threatening punitive action if his orders are not followed.

What does that remind you of?

Union-Busters Suck

Many if not most Republicans are vehemently opposed to the idea of workers unions.

They say it’s because paying dues is unfair to workers, but we all know that’s a bunch of malarkey.

The truth is that unions are effective.  The truth is that Republicans only care about the upper classes, which happen to be the same people who own corporations, which happen to be the same people in control of wages.

Yes, the people who own corporations “control” the wages.  Wages are not left to the whims of the so-called “free market.”  Prices might be, but not wages.  Corporate America collectively controls the wage indexes, and they do so with a coordinated, yet unofficial, effort.

When corporate America “collectively” does something, they are in effect working as a union.  So what we have is one union, the corporations, against another, the workers.  But most workers have no union, and corporate America is dead set on keeping it that way.

A union is power.  A union is leverage.

And unfortunately, in today’s political climate, a union is a social animal well on its way to extinction.  The masses have been thoroughly brain-washed into thinking that we only deserves the crumbs of wages we’re given by the rich.

If you want to get rich as a laborer, work harder!  If you want to get rich, you must first make some one else richer.

True Leadership is Needed

The left has no real leader at the moment. That is probably the biggest problem we face: no real leadership.

We have no coordination, no action-oriented objectives.

Voting is not enough.  If voting were enough, we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.

We have prominent people who are in a position to say what we’re all thinking, and that’s fine, but it won’t accomplish anything.

We need action, and we need coordinated action, and that can only be achieved under the direction of a true leader, or group of leaders working together.

Until that happens, we’ll keep flailing and fighting and…losing to the greedy imbeciles on the right.

On Nuclear Energy in New Mexico

If New Mexico ever gets snookered into building a nuclear power plant, you’ll know we got fooled, and fooled good.

Nuclear energy is not an option. If New Mexico were a submarine or an aircraft carrier then yes, nuclear energy might make sense. But in a land as rich in sunshine and wind as this enchanted state, nuclear power would be a huge mistake, and a gigantic step backward.

Some people say that since solar and wind are finally making headway, we should take their subsidies and give the money to nuclear instead. The notion is so profoundly illogical that the mind struggles for a metaphor. It’s almost like saying “Since smart phones are doing so well, let’s stop building cell towers and invest in land lines instead.”

Step back in time to the 1980s. Imagine if somebody said “Wow, personal computers are really taking off. Let’s stop R&D on those, and start building bigger mainframes instead.”

With few exceptions, nuclear has never really been a viable alternative energy source.

Exhibit A: No nuclear power plant has ever been built, anywhere, without a massive infusion of taxpayer money.

Exhibit B: In 2011, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the total subsidies paid and offered to nuclear power companies from 1960 to 2024 generally exceeded the value of the electricity produced.

Exhibit C: Since 1958, more than 120 nuclear power plants were started and never finished due to cost overruns.

To make matters worse, nuclear energy is simply more expensive than traditional sources. As an example, where traditional sources might cost around 0.89 cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear energy can cost as much as 1.04 cents. Since we’re living in an era where energy can be traded across the country via power-lines, it’s altogether possible to build a nuclear power plant that generates electricity nobody wants to buy.

Nuclear is a big investment in terms of money and time. From start to finish, an operational nuclear power plant can take as long as 10 years or more to complete. Why? Because we’re not just building the plant, we’re establishing an intricate, exceptionally high-tech logistical system that has to run like clockwork or the whole thing grinds to a halt.

First we have to secure the uranium. Second, we have to enrich the uranium at special processing plants. Next we have to safely transport and store the activated material. Then we use it. Once used, we have to discard the nuclear waste safely. Not surprisingly, the taxpayer usually gets stuck with the bill for this last phase.

Nuclear energy is an exceedingly complex way to do a simple thing. Fissile nuclear material gets hot, really hot, hot enough to turn water to steam, which in turn spins electrical generators. The uranium “fuel rods” are useful for about 6 years. Sounds good, until you realize we generate about 2,300 tons of nuclear waste per year.

So after 6 years of energy, we’re left with thousands of tons of a useless, deadly nuclear byproduct which can last about 10,000 years. This means that for the next 10,000 years, someone will have to monitor it, measure its degradation, and be able to move it should some unforeseen complications arise.

10,000 years of lethal hazard for 6 years of limited, regional energy? That’s not a good trade-off. And who’s going to pay for minding the waste? How many companies stay in business for 10,000 years?

All of these negatives don’t even touch upon the very real possibility of something going catastrophically wrong. Then we’d have a Three Mile Island, or a Fukushima, or a Chernobyl, or worse.

Who gets stuck with the bill if something goes wrong? We do, the taxpayers, of course. That’s Business 101: privatize the profits and externalize the costs.

Whose ecologic system will be irreversibly impacted? Ours. Whose DNA will risk cancerous mutation? Ours. And you can bet money few of the shareholders of that nuclear facility will live anywhere near the contamination.

While I’m no fan of Wall Street, it’s telling to note its whims and fancies. The stock exchange isn’t crazy about nuclear power, and hasn’t been for decades. Way back in 1985, Forbes Magazine wrote that nuclear power was “the greatest managerial disaster in business history…only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money has been well spent.”

Regardless of what we think of big investors, we should heed sound advice, forget about nuclear, and learn to look forward, not back. Just as coal has no future, neither has nuclear. It’s ironic, since one was made of dinosaurs, and the other was born of war, two things best left in the past.