I need to take another day off. My COPD was severe yesterday, and I overslept today. I have to go out today to run errands, and I have prep work to do for tomorrow, a prison volunteer day. I don’t want to overdo it. I’m current with replies. Tomorrow, I shall put up at least an Open Thread before leaving for volunteer work. Wednesday, please expect only an Open thread, as I shall need to recover from volunteer work.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
Today’s took me 3:01 (average 4:12). To do it, click here. How did you do?
Short Takes: (I’m trying something unprecedented today.)
From NY Times: If you’d like to know why Republicans are trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a look at three things the agency has already accomplished in its first 18 months:
¶ [sic] It called a halt to predatory practices by mortgage lenders, ensuring that borrowers are not saddled with loans they can’t afford and preventing brokers from earning higher commissions for higher interest rates.
¶ [sic] It won an $85 million settlement from American Express, which it accused of deceptive and discriminatory marketing and billing practices.
¶ [sic] It opened an investigation into questionable marketing practices by banks and credit card companies on college campuses, which often take place after undisclosed financial arrangements are made with universities.
The explanation for this is obvious. The Banksters and Vulture Capitalists who depend on financial fraud for obscene profits are a major part of the 1%, who are the only ones Republicans truly represent.
From NY Times: NOW that Congress has discarded the idea that taxes can never be raised, we must change how we pay for the wars we ask our military to fight. We should institute a war tax.
With leading officials calling for action in Syria, and the American military providing support for France’s intervention in Mali, the need for such a tax is urgent. And President Obama’s call for tax reform as the next round of budget negotiations begins offers a perfect opportunity to enact it.
Military spending has been declining since 2009, easing the conflict between pursuing our national security interests and solving our fiscal crisis. But if we undertake new military interventions, that tension will come roaring back.
As weird as this idea may sound, it could warrant further thought, if and only if the new tax targeted war profiteers, such as Halliburton, exclusively.
From NY Times: Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas
To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed — and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
And such is the influence of what we might call the ignorance caucus that even when giving a speech intended to demonstrate his openness to new ideas, Mr. Cantor felt obliged to give that caucus a shout-out, calling for a complete end to federal funding of social science research [AEI delinked]. Because it’s surely a waste of money seeking to understand the society we’re trying to change.
Click through for the rest of this fine Paul Krugman editorial. The Republican party does not want to govern people. They want poor stupid sheeple, so dumbed down that they will grab their own ankles, bend over, say ‘BA-A-A-A-A’, and not even ask for Vaseline, just like most of their base.