But this is a kingdom not a democracy. I have an advanced degree in philosophy and love debate. I’m very tolerant of unpopular “politically incorrect” views even when I disagree with them. What I won’t countenance is outright nonsense, venom, and spleen. “Hit and run” posts by anonymous posters won’t be tolerated. Name calling I’ll handle on a case-by-case basis. Something like “James, you’re an idiot if you believe…” would likely be tolerated whereas “James, you fucking kike…” probably would not. Let’s keep our abuse of each other free of scurrilousness. I hope I don’t regret starting this blog, which I’ve done in response to the astounding lack of real discussion and debate in everyday life, especially when it comes to certain topics like religion and gender. Got something on your chest? Well here’s a good place to vent. Let’s see how it goes.

If you’d like to start a topic, get in touch with me with an abstract if not a full post and I’ll let you know if you can be a guest poster.

It sounds fair and democratic and tolerant. I’m referring to the mantra one often hears from anti-vaccination parents that, “I just think it should be the parents’ choice.”

That’s easy for them to say, because their children live in a world where about 90% of the kids around them are immune to measles and whooping cough and some of the other diseases that would sweep across the country back before vaccination become common in the 1950’s. That immunity also means that 90% of the kids around them couldn’t pass along these diseases if they tried.

But let’s consider changing things around and I’m betting many of those anti-vaccination parents would change their mind.

For example, let’s say OK, you don’t want to vaccinate, but we don’t want our children around your children. At the same time, we don’t want to deny your children an education.

So, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll set up schools where your children can go to school, but only with other unvaccinated children. And once your children start getting the measles or whooping cough or even polio, some of them dying, don’t come running to us because we’ll just say…

‘I’m sorry your child is dead, but at least s/he didn’t become autistic, right?!!!

I can drive and have a driver’s license, but discovered long ago that when you live downtown, as I do, in a city with a very good public transportation system, the expenses of owning a car are just money flushed down the toilet. When I need a car, there’s always ZipCar and when they don’t have a car handy when I need it, I can swallow hard and incur the expense of a taxi. That still works out considerably cheaper than owning and operating¬† a car. And that’s still true with today’s gas prices which are down to or approaching $1.50 a gallon in many places.

My independence of a car leaves me on the sidelines of the trials and tribulations of day to day auto operation at the fuel pump.

I know that fuel costs figure into the price of almost all consumer products, though I haven’t noticed a correlating nosedive in consumer product prices just yet. I think the businesses are doing some welcome (to them) profit-taking in that regard.

So, people operating cars are, for the most part winners. I say “for the most part” because people who work in petroleum-related energy industries are experiencing cutbacks and layoffs.

They aren’t the only losers, either. Any person or industry who decided to lock in a price tied to a minimum delivery commitment before the price of petroleum went into freefall is probably experience a lot of lock-in remorse. This will include some airlines, which might put them at a severe disadvantage to airlines which did not, though the airlines (such as American) which took a chance on free market fuel don’t seem to be passing the savings along in lower ticket prices. It does insulate them, though, from attempts by other carriers who might otherwise think about starting a ticket price war.

Other losers include retirees whose monthly checks depend heavily on oil industry profits and/or other industries which thrive based on selling to the oil industry. So, maybe it keeps the price of a laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone down for a college student, while his grandparents are discovering that their monthly retirement checks have dropped 25% recently (the amount will obviously vary depending upon what sorts of investments their retirement plan has made).

Russia, of course, is a major loser. Much of Russia’s remaining income has come from selling oil to its neighbors, but it can’t get away with charging more than market, and right now petroleum is dirt cheap. With much of Russia’s former income out of reach due to sanctions from the U.S. and other countries displeased with its actions in the Ukraine, Putin is finding himself on the hot seat.

Another category of losers you might not think about at first is the alternative energy industries. Solar panels, windmills, and other technologies designed to reduce the use of petroleum will take a hit as long as the price remains low.

Finally, let’s not forget the oil industry’s recent heavy investment in fracking, which produces oil at a higher cost than simply pumping it out of the ground. Defaulting on loans and bonds could hurt the industry for years to come once that starts happening.

In the worst case scenario, cheap oil could depress the entire world economy.

I’ll finish up with the Motley Fool summation:

Don’t get me wrong, I love paying less at the gas pump and to heat my home. But I also recognize that the recent boom in shale oil and ultra-cheap credit has left many oil producers up to their eyeballs in debt. In a highly complex world, where junk bonds are owned by banks, investors, and even pension funds, a series of bond defaults could have a powerful domino effect that might impact not just the United States, but also global credit markets.

In addition, the decline in new oil investments could result in a large number of layoffs within the oil and gas industry, which is responsible for 7% of U.S. gross domestic product.Should energy bond defaults result in a credit crunch this could drastically lower the energy market’s access to credit in the coming years. That in turn could result in far slower oil production growth and higher energy prices in the future. (source)

You’ve heard the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, lest you get it” phrased in several different ways.

President Obama was elected, in large part, on the idea of getting disentangled from our ground troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and while it took him a while to get this job largely done, we are now able to look at what the public got when its wishes were fulfilled.

ISIS

When George Bush invaded Iraq in a vain attempt to gain control of the country’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, our troops pretty much kicked everyone with power out of office. It seemed like the thing to do at the time, but the largely Sunni power base went to ground, taking their military training with them, and formed an underground army which came out into the open about a half year ago.

So, it was a situation caused by the Bush Administration and inherited by the Obama Administration, and Obama carried out the will of the people.

So, don’t blame Obama for ISIS. It’s a situation we got with our first wish. Let’s hope the Genie has two more wishes for us and that we use them wisely.

Seems like a day hardly goes by without some new rape allegation aimed at Bill Cosby. Now, while some accusers seem more believable than others, there are enough women telling stories without asking for money in return to conclude that “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Apparently Cosby took advantage of women after subduing them with alcohol and/or drugs so often it clearly became habitual.

Even so, while some of his appearances and projects have been or are being cancelled, when he does appear, even before a women’s group, he gets standing ovations. One commentator said of this that it proves that “rape culture” is so deeply a part of American society that even women accept it.

But my real reason for writing isn’t to beat the Bill Cosby horse one more time. Rather, it’s to make a prediction that the barn door is now open and we’ll be hearing about the unpleasant sexual proclivities of other performers.

Just you watch.

As with American Healthcare, The Party of “No” really has nothing to offer when it comes to the immigration problem.

Why isn’t the GOP responding to President Obama’s soon-to-be-revealed executive order on immigration with something like, “Wait! Hold on! We’ll come up with a plan and have it on your desk shortly?”

Well, obviously, the answer is that the GOP doesn’t want the electorate to know what their ideas on immigration are! Either that, or they’re just so clueless they want to keep their head stuck under sand, hoping that if they prolong their legislative slumbers it will just go away.

Well, it won’t go away, and they won’t curry the favor of the burgeoning Hispanic electorate by leaving it to the Democrats.

The 2014 elections are on the horizon and in past months the GOP has almost smugly assumed that it’s going to take back the Senate. However, if it goes on driving a wedge between white men on the one side and ethnic minorities and the majority of women on the other, it is doomed.

I think anyone can see that the GOP needs to split into two parties: one which promotes fiscal restraint and another which promotes reactionary social values based on their particular interpretation of fundamentalist Christianity.

The problem, of course, is that while the current GOP is a viable opponent to the Democrats, neither the fiscal GOP nor the religious GOP would be.

Whether or not the GOP wins the Senate back later this year, the current GOP strategy will lead to its doom. On the other hand, if they make the necessary change by splitting, they won’t be able to oppose the Democrats for many years.

The GOP committed political suicide in time to lose the Presidential elections in 2008 and 2012. They did it through losing enough female and minority votes to put Obama in office.

Losing a huge proportion of the female vote is a given between Republican opposition to abortion and the absolutely wild and scurrilous things dingbat GOP’ers say about women from time to time.

The black vote is a virtual lock. The GOP lost them decades ago and only  a very exceptional black person votes Republican. The Asians are up for grabs, but they are a relatively small contingent.

By contrast, the Hispanics have become America’s largest minority and, based on the last two Presidential elections, they appear to be mostly in the Democrat column.

Any GOP hope for the long-term future has to include winning a goodly number of Hispanics back into the Republican fold. This means doing something in the immigration area that Hispanics will view as constructive.

But what did the GOP’dominated House of Representatives do just before heading off to vacation? Read this MSN article for specifics, but what it boils down to is speeding up deportations of the current glut of undocumented children fleeing violence in Central America, revoking work permits of immigrants currently working here legally, and sending the so-called “dreamers” (children of undocumented immigrants who have never lived anywhere but in the United States and may not even speak Spanish).

In short, they have alienated the very voting block they cannot survive without, and all in the name doctrinal purity. The radicals have taken over the GOP and the GOP is now on a deathbed of its own making.

Etymologically speaking, “radical” refers to a root. Radicals adhere to their doctrinal roots. To a political radical, being pure is more important than being successful, and the GOP will pay the priced.

In past months, winning back the Senate has been talked about like it’s a done deal, but in typical Republican fashion in recent years, they may be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The GOP has become split in several different directions which are pulling the party apart. You have the fiscal conservatives. You have the religious fundamentalist faction. You have the screwballs who just flat-out hate Obama (presumably for being black), hate non-whites, or who want to roll American social culture back to the 1940’s or 1950’s.