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The Morning Grumpy – 3/27/12

27 Mar

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Building off an incredible article by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine, Ira Glasser asks a fundamental question, what exactly are conservatives trying to conserve?

About a month ago, Jonathan Chait published an important article in New York Magazine arguing that demographic changes in the United States will before too long spell doom to the political influence and hegemony of conservatives, and that conservatives, well aware of these changes, regard the 2012 elections as their last, best chance to reverse the course America is on.

This is something I’ve written about frequently, to whom do Republicans think they will appeal in ten years? The faith-based, “fear of the other” messaging to a diminishing audience is marginalizing their future.

What conservatives were desperately trying to conserve was not the values at America’s origin (the Bill of Rights was, after all, ratified in 1791), but rather the privileges and powers of 19th century and early 20th century America. This is what has fueled the reactionary politics of the past three decades, and it is what we are seeing now in the Republican base and its candidates.

Social change and large-scale demographic shifts will further limit the party to regional and rural appeal with people who are angry about the march of time. The campaigns of Rick Santorum and other tea party candidates feel more like a death rattle than a rallying cry.

2. Through the use of over 20 tax shelters, Exxon Mobil will pay a 13% effective tax rate on over $41,000,000,000 in profits (a 35% increase over 2010, no thanks to Comrade Obama, I’m sure).

Think about this next time you’re paying $4.05 per gallon at the pump. Also relevant, domestic oil production is at it’s highest rate in nearly ten years and speculators are profiting at absurd rates.

3. Someday, I’d like to live in a country in which our citizens don’t have to hold Chinese Auctions and bake sales to pay for cancer treatments.

If you happen to see flyers like these while you are out and about, please take a snapshot and email it to I’m building a Tumblr/Artvoice series featuring these photos.

4. Ten lesser known reforms to insurance plans and health regulations included in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), pretty great stuff.

  • The Physician Payment Sunshine Act under health care reform requires drug, device or medical supply companies to report annually certain payments or things of value that they’ve given physicians and teaching hospitals.
  • The law requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on menus and drive-through menus. Other fun facts like fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein would have to be made available in writing upon request.
  • Mammograms, physical exams, colonoscopies, vaccinations — these are among the preventive care services that will be fully covered by insurance companies. (Note: I currently have a policy that doesn’t fully cover standard preventive procedures like this)

5. Last week, we learned that Encyclopaedia Britannica would discontinue it’s print offering to focus solely on their online product. Wikipedia killed it, right? That’s the conventional wisdom. As Tim Carmody points out, it was Microsoft Encarta that actually killed the print encyclopedia…in the library, with the revolver.

Britannica went bankrupt in 1996, long before Wikipedia was a crowdsourced gleam in Jimmy Wales’ open-access eye. In 1990, the company had $650 million in revenue. In 1996, it was being sold off in toto for $135 million. What happened in between was Encarta.

I loved encyclopedias…I devoured the information in them like a starving wolf. I’ll miss the feel and weight and import of those books.

6. A fascinating interview about the morality of economics with a Czech economist.

We want to live as if we were actors portraying ourselves.

Ethics forms the core of economics. It leads straight to the question of the good and right way of living, or Aristotle’s concept of eudemonia. For him, maximizing benefit without maximizing good would have been pointless. A market economy without morality is a zombie system: The robots function perfectly, but in the end they leave behind a trail of devastation. We have to return to our origins and talk about the soul of the economy.

A little heavy on the religious imagery, but an enlightening read.

Fact of The Day: There is a cat named Hank who is running for Senate in Virginia. No, really. Maybe we can get him to move to Buffalo and run for Mayor. It would be an improvement.

Quote Of The Day: “If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.” – Penn Jillette

Video Of The Day (Great Movie Monologues Week): Captain Koons and The Watch – Pulp Fiction

Cartoon Of the Day (Bugs Bunny Week): Bunny Hugged

Song Of The Day: “Fools Gold” – The Stone Roses

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