Category Archives: Privatization

Hot Air

The Next Appeal

Much of America jumped for joy upon hearing the Obergefell decision last week. Other Americans, though, groused, clenched their fists, and vowed to…, um…, to do something.

Those of us who think we’re familiar with this holy land’s system of writing, enacting, and interpreting laws might react with a derisive snort to the Religious Right’s pledge to act. As we understand it, once the US Supreme Court rules on a disagreement over a law, well, that’s that. There is no higher authority than the Supremes.

Ah, but that’s not so, say the Holy Rollers. There is god.

Anti-Same-Sex Marriage

The Big Daddy-o in the Sky is mightily pissed, they tell us. Almightily pissed. They know because they talk him him regularly. The fact that their conversations always are one-sided means little to the pious of our nation. Somehow they know what his immensity is thinking. He’s thinking about unleashing earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, and other annoyances upon our blighted land because we’re now allowing same-sex couples to get married.

Don’t mess with god, the Very Right sez. He’ll hit you so hard your mother’ll fall down.

Teehee, the rest of us say.

Put the brakes on your snorting, sez me. Don’t laugh at the Religious Right. They’ve got a power behind them greater even than god. They’ve got the Koch Boys.

Murrica’s second richest clan engineered the Citizens United decision — declared, natch — by that very same Supreme Court in 2010. CU gives the Kochs the mechanism by which they can control elections hereabouts. And do you know what remedy some Republicans are touting? The election of US Supreme Court justices.

As in, Hey, vote for me, I’ll set you free! Imagine Donald Trump on the Supreme Court. Or Glenn Beck. How about Sarah Palin? You know, of course, one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to be a US Supreme Court justice, don’t you? The Constitution says nothing mandating lawyers as bench warmers.

Palin

Habeas Who? Nolo What?

But if, say, Sen. Ted Cruz has his way, some specially anointed water-carrier for the Kochs just might make it into a black robe. Cruz is telling the world via his recently-released political memoir that we must start having general elections for Supreme Court justices.

Acc’d’g to him, the justices should reflect the will o’the people. Acc’d’g to reality, such elections would more likely reflect the will of the Koch Boys. And if the Kochs figure a candidate for the Supremes — who just happens to be a flamboyant god-ist — will serve their lofty interests, they’ll throw their dough behind him. Dough wins elections.

Let’s be frank: It’d be a sure bet a guy who’s philosophically simpatico to the Kochs would be a crucifix waver. Davey and Chuck know better than anyone the history and efficacy of the American plutocracy using Jesus to further its interests.

Those of us giddy that the US Supreme Court has ratified the freedom of any two adults who want to chain themselves together in wedlock had better watch out. The Religious Right has god behind them. And god has the Kochs behind him.

The Explosion Of Privatization

So, another Space-X rocket ship has exploded upon taking off. It’s a shame. Now the astronauts in the International Space Station will have to wait for their latest copy of Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Space-X is the rocket booster manufacturer and operator that scored a contract with NASA to resupply the ISS in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle era. The idea being private industry can do the job immeasurably better than a gov’t agency. That’s the philosophy behind privatization, right?

Right. Elon Musk put together the Space-X aerospace corp. with one of its stated goals being putting a crew of humans on Mars. Eventually. Till then, though, Space-X’d do the heavy lifting for the ISS.

In the last eight months, though, two Space-X vehicles have blown themselves to smithereens. That is, the last two Space-X ships are now nothing more than metal splinters. Make no mistake: space travel is a risky business. Hell, I can’t even lift myself off my recliner without help half the time. A rocket booster must lift tons and tons of stuff, pushing it up to 25,000 mph to escape the Earth’s gravitational pull. The Falcon 9 vehicle that blew up yesterday is designed to carry up to 27.5 tons of food, water, magazines, and toilet paper. That’s even more than I weigh.

Nobody can do it without taking the chance that the damned thing’d disappear in a burst of flaming fuel. Not a gov’t agency. Not a private corporation.

When NASA was first trying to launch rockets into space in the late 1950s, the ratio between successful liftoffs and blow-ups was a terrifying 1-1. In the ensuing six decades, though, the US gov’t agency in charge of space stuff learned how to send people and things off the Earth with a reasonable expectation of success. Oh sure, there’ve been disasters — Apollo 3, the Challenger, and the Columbia — but whenever NASA experienced such a spectacular failure, it had to shut down operations for long months and even years and explain to the American people why it screwed up. As for the non-governmental Space-X outfit, the American public will forget about Sunday’s explosion by the day after tomorrow. That is, those who even were aware of the explosion in the first place.

At least NASA had to put the lives of astronauts and the negative PR fallout from a mission failure on the front burner. The pols who authorized the billions of dollars for the agency’s operations insisted NASA launch a safe vehicle, and costs be damned.

That was then. Now, with privatization, cost is king. Private corps. put profit on the front burner. If one safety check or another cuts too deeply into the total expense of a mission, well then it just might have to be made more flexible, shall we say, or even nixed altogether. Shaving cost is the god of for-profit business. Maximizing revenue is its heaven.

I have no idea at this moment if Musk’s Space-X cut corners to put together its Falcon-9 vehicle. I assume NASA and the company itself will conduct a thorough investigation. But, guaranteed, that investigation will be done outside the public eye. And its findings will make about as much splash as the news that the City of Bloomington is using a new brand of paint for its parking meters.

Suffice it to say I’m no fan of privatization.

Magical Monocrat

Funnyman Aaron Freeman points out a prediction made by then-Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro in 1973:

The United States will talk to us when you have a black president and the world has a Latin American pope.

Some folks are saying this is evidence of the revolutionary boss’s psychic powers — or at least his ability to read the geopolitical tea leaves. I say, Bah. His “prediction” was really code for “When hell freezes over.” I doubt he would have ever guessed that Satan would be shivering while he — Castro — was still alive.

Castro & Doves

Fidel & His Famous Dove Trick

Now, if he would have said, “… when homosexuals can marry in the US and the Pope rails regularly against the evils of capitalism…,” then we could talk about his extra-sensory perceptions.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” — Ann Richards

THOMPSON AND KEATON

What a blast in Bloomington tonight!

British songwriter, guitarist, and all-around good guy Richard Thompson plays the Buskirk Chumley Theater at 8pm. And if you’re a film buff, hie over to the IU’s Jacobs School of Music, Auer Hall, also at 8, for a showing of Buster Keaton‘s comedy, “Spite Marriage.” John D. Schwandt will accompany the silent movie on organ.

Bloomington Tuesday Night Stars: Thompson & Keaton

By the way, the tall Thompson (he can give our own Tall Steve Volan a run for his money) came into the Book Corner yesterday. I was fairly busy at the time so I hadn’t taken notice of the celeb in my midst. Only when I ran his credit card did it occur to me that, holy smoke, it’s Richard Thompson!

I showered him with fan praise and — whaddya know? — Thompson showered the Book Corner with his own plaudits.

If you’ve got tix for his gig, you’re in for a big treat.

THE STRIKE: DAY 9

Fingers crossed that Chicago’s teachers approve the proposed deal with the school board this afternoon.

If done, classes will resume tomorrow. If not, the howling from the anti-unionists will become deafening.

Bosses: The School Board’s David Vitale & The Union’s Karen Lewis

The idea is starting to filter out that much of the teachers’ quibble stems from their rigid opposition to the trend toward privatization, not only in Chi but around the nation.

Just a reminder to those who dig privatization: we call them public schools for a reason.

NOT SILVER-TONGUED

Quick question: Is Willard Romney on the payroll of the Barack Obama reelection campaign?

I mean, the guy is running for president, sure, but if he sabotaged himself any more we’d have to grant him honorary membership in the Bluth family of “Arrested Development.”

Mitt Romney Would Fit In Nicely Between George And Lindsay Bluth

Romney washed his hands of responsibility for half the nation at a Boca Raton fundraiser in the spring. He characterized that half as tax non-payers, bums, gold-diggers, and welfare queens. Someone had sneaked a video camera in and caught him in the act.

See, that’s the way Republicans today look at the people of this holy land. The POG had better jump down off its high horse soon or else they’ll be losing a lot more races.

Anyway, Romney’s big mouth makes me think of that great quote (at the top of this column) delivered by Texan Ann Richards at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. She was referring to another patrician Republican running for president at the time, George H.W. Bush.

Somehow Richards became the Texas governor in 1991. How a plain-speaking, unabashedly liberal, feisty female could grab the reins in that antediluvian state is beyond explanation. The Pan troglodytes of Texas came to their senses four years later when they threw her out of office in favor of — oh, my aching head! — George W. Bush.

Had Ann Richards been a pol in, say Illinois, Pennsylvania, or even Nebraska, she just might have become president herself.

NEW SAN ANTONIO ROSE

Here’s a pretty good quality recording of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys‘ 1940s Texas Swing hit.

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