ACT for America, an activist group opposing “radical Islam,”1 is pushing a ten-point agenda for the 112th Congress.
Let’s take a look. Continue reading
I cannot sleep, I cannot eat. I’m scared to walk to the bathroom because I’m afraid they will hunt me down.… I’m not the same. — An American citizen trapped in Kuwait
Here is my letter: Continue reading
Attention Conservation Notice: This post is about Alabama politics and the use of American Indian imagery to score political points.
Spotted this billboard the other day in East Lake, Birmingham.
The three men on the right are Alabama Governor Bob Riley, John Tyson (current head of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling) and David Barber (the first head of the task force). An Indian war bonnet adorns the space above the three mug shots. Continue reading
I’ve avoided mention of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because there are no words for the enormity of it. The pessimist in me supposes that we can look forward to more of this kind of death-dealing merchant-adventurism in our future. The optimist in me is silent.
The only consequences BP appears likely to suffer are unanticipated expenditures, some nagging civil lawsuits, and a short-term drop in retail sales at the pump.
Compare that to the trashing of the two most vital ecosystems in the northern Gulf (the Mississippi and Alabama river deltas), not to mention the fisheries that thousands of people depend on for a living. Throw in the poisoning of uncounted sea and shore animals, at a time of year when birds converge on the Gulf coast to mate and raise chicks. To top it all, BP’s recklessness will pepper the Gulf’s beaches with nasty tarballs — that’s if we’re very lucky. If we’re unlucky, we’ll get a noisome coat of glistening crude that will sicken and kill for years to come.
We also get to be a laboratory for what happens when you squirt poisonous dispersants into a living sea. Anyone want to guess? Continue reading
One of our local political candidates started putting up signs back in December, for a party primary that wouldn’t happen until June. Dozens of signs.
Late in February my mother complained about them, saying she wanted to get rid of a Jim Gunter sign that had appeared at her street corner. Who’s Jim Gunter anyway?
So I went and took it down. Soon I began removing other signs as I encountered them.
I’ve been listening to the Irish radio series (available in podcast) called “Speaking Ill of the Dead.” Based on an idea cooked up by some Montana historians, it’s a series of history lectures that seeks to balance the profession’s innate tendency toward hero worship by deliberately running down some eminent historical figures.
Montana has no end of colorful ne’er-do-wells whose lives can hardly be treated in any other way but with contempt. Continue reading
Since January I have spent hours helping a neighbor whose attempts to pay his creditor, GE Money (doing business as CareCredit), were all being headed off. Whether he used the website or the telephone, he was unable to complete the transaction, and was in danger of expensive penalties. Reaching a customer service rep required unusual persistence, and once he did so, the employees were consistently unhelpful, besides being alternately hostile and contemptuous.
After research, I formed the following hypothesis:
GE Money Bank formed CareCredit, and tricked it out to look like a nonprofit, in order to mislead elderly, inexperienced, or otherwise vulnerable customers into signing up for a credit card that is easy to acquire but difficult to make timely payments on. This results in crippling penalties and interest on what is touted as an “interest-free” credit option. Instead of helping customers pay their health-care bills, CareCredit is more likely to punish customers with extra expenses.
As the president and congressional leaders meet today on financial regulation, I offer this story as evidence of which direction we need to be going now. It is not in our national interest to allow banks to take customers for everything they can get, while “denying any wrongdoing.” We need an independent financial consumer protection agency with the power to intervene in the interest of consumers. Continue reading
Mark Twain’s character “Pap” Finn, the father of Huckleberry Finn, is an angry man. He’s angry at his son for giving him “sass” and disobeying him. He’s angry at the whole town for looking down on him, instead of respecting and fearing him as he knows they should. He’s angry at the meddling Widow Douglas for giving his good-for-nothing son a home and an education. And he’s angry at the law for withholding money he didn’t earn but feels entitled to.
Whenever his liquor begun to work he most always went for the govment.
— Huckleberry Finn
Pap works out his anger by drinking and running riot whenever he can afford to. Or he takes it out on his son, lashing him without mercy as often as he can catch him. And when these fail him, he puts his anger into words. His rants are worthy of a comments thread on a 21st-century blog — and no less topical. He hated everyone he knew, but in his rants “he most always went for the govment.”