Mitch McConnell Apparently Has Lost His Memory!

I saw this in the news today

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, excoriated Democrats for declaring their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh even before his nomination was announced.

Hmmm … is this the same McConnell who refused to allow hearings on ANY nominee made by Barrack Obama let alone a vote on the Senate floor?

It seems that Senator McConnell has no shame whatsoever or that he has no memory of the partisan stunt that he pulled off single handedly a little more than a year ago.

Which do you think is the case?

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The Rotten Roots of Modern Conservatism

It is a puzzle to many liberals – how do conservatives think about policy? For example, how could they be against helping people get health care at reasonable cost? At first blush, it seems that it is the manifestation of mean spirited selfishness. And that is true – with a twist.

The twist is that there is an intellectual core to this school of thought. That intellectual core preaches that a selfish society is a better society. There is no “shared interest”, just pure self-interest. When that self interest gets diluted, it loses its intellectual vigor.

That school of thought is not from Adam Smith. It  has instead a more modern progenitor – Ayn Rand. Rand wrote two books that lay out her ideas – The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And modern conservatives treat these books are the words of a prophet.

BTW, One of the most devoted Ayn Rand true believers used to run the Federal Reserve – Alan Greenspan. Greenspan could not imagine that self-interest could lead to the demise of institutions that were essential to supporting it. And that is precisely what happened in the 2008 meltdown. Greenspan was dumbfounded and remains so today.

Robert Reich discussed Rand in the video below – and if you want to be part of the  political debate that rages these days, you might want to take a look and decide for yourself whether Rand was  a prophet of a quack social psychologist.

I have labelled Rand’s influence “rotten”. Why? For two reasons. First, there is a major difference between playing a game with passion (something Rand would approve of) and ignoring whether the rules of the game are biased towards one side (something Rand would suggest we do). Second, Rand’s approach to making society work runs headlong into a discovery that we have made about innovation. Innovation is not an act of individual ego. It arises out of social connection. And celebration of unbridled ego therefore, is a recipe for a less prosperous society.

Deconstructing Brett Kavanaugh

Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court. This raises a number of issues that will no doubt be subject to debate.

BTW, check out the above link to see Judge Kavanaugh utter his first words as a  nominee to the Court. Those first words were to lie about Donald Trump’s broad search for a candidate. It is a whopper of the first order! Trump conducted no broad search. And we know that he has little to no respect for the law or for judges. He is interested in one thing and one thing alone — loyalty. More on that below. But shame on you Judge Kavanaugh! It is a bad start to an ugly narrative.

So one should be excused for saying that Kavanaugh is a republican judge, through and through. His affiliation is republican. His connections are conservative. And he and Neil Gorsuch represent the effort of the Republican Party to nail down control of the US Supreme Court for a generation. The lock step majority will be Roberts, Thomas, Alita, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

The frightening consequence of this voting block is that the Supreme Court will drift away from what Americans actually want from legal policy. Polls reflect, for example, that a majority of Americans support gun control and abortion rights not to mention voting rights. The above Supreme Court majority are not likely to agree. And they win

Moreover,  if Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, the above majority block will likely decide if the current president can be compelled to testify before a grand jury and perhaps be indicted. In other words, Trump has appointed his personal court to serve his interests. We should not be surprised if Trump wins.

Finally, it does not stretch the imagination to see the above voting block as a barrier to developing federal policies that fix our problems in health care, immigration, environment and so on. Why? Because republican positions in these areas are that the federal government should not solve these problems. The republicans will no t need to win elections to see republican ideas holding sway in Washington.

This is why I hope that Senate Democrats will follow through with their opposition to this candidate getting a vote on confirmation before the November midterms. And I would expect that the two women Republican Senators who hold the power in their hands to stop this will do so.

And Kavanaugh’s nomination adds to the importance of getting out to vote in November., unless you like the direction the country is headed.

Let the games begin!

Around the NBA – Free Agency Ups and Downs

I will get this out of the way quickly – no one has a clue what will happen with Kawhi.

having said that, there is lots of other news that will affect teams going forward

  • the Rockets have lost two major role players in Ariz and a Moute. That may just kill their chances for beating the Warriors next year
  • the Kings are chasing the Celtics’ Marcus Smart. He is a restricted free agent – so the Celtics might match the Kings offer. But losing Smart or having to pay a boatload to keep him will hurt the Celtics
  • the Spurs have lost Kyle Anderson to the Grizzlies and re-signed Davis Bertans. We will see if Bertrans blooms with more minutes
  • the Warriors lost Zaza Pachulia to the Pistons. No biggie here.
  • The Lakers lost Brook Lopez to the Bucks. Ouch! Less floor spacing for LeBron. And the moves that the Lakers did make mean that they will suck next year

The off-season moves are not done yet. Stay tuned!

Remembering Tab Hunter and What He Represented

I was a bit too young to have a clear memory of the actor,Tab Hunter. But during the 1960’s I was aware of his film personae.  He played the clean cut, handsome boy next door whom the girls were crazy about. Hunter sold this as part of the American brand. And he sold it well.

Here he is, looking the part.

Image result for Tab Hunter

That character type found its way into many a Hollywood movie. And it reflected mainstream values of those days.  It was tempting to believe that the characters were real, rather than manufactured. Indeed, nurturing the belief that it was more than just acting was a key part of maintaining the popularity of the brand.

It was much later that we learned that actors like Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson were not at all like those characters. They were instead, real people who had their own sense of propriety and sexuality that they kept secret, The world didn’t learn that Hunter was gay until 2005 when he came out.  The truth about Hudson might not have come out if he had not contracted HIV back in 1984.

My how the world has changed.  Back in the early 60’s I don’t think the phrase “coming out” meant anything more than a party where a young girl was introduced to society. A much older tradition that is largely forgotten.

Image result for coming out party

I bring all this up in part to say so long to Hunter who passed on the other day at the ripe old age of 86,  I also pose this question — thinking back on those days, we all were expected to conform. Did that make life simpler? Some might like to remember it that way, but I think not.

What do you think?

When Did You Last Enjoy a Caprese Salad?

I tend to think about caprese salad only when the sun is hot, I am sitting on a terrace, and have already ordered a glass of chablis.

BTW, you might be wondering which Chablis are getting the best reviews. Here are a few that might tempt you!

Back to caprese salad! In truth, the caprese is only really magical when it is made from the most fresh ingredients. And in this post, you get a peek at some. – like the burnata

Image result for burrata cheese

Hmmm … what is the difference between burrata and mozzarella? You can find the answer here!

Enjoy!

Why Did Quakers Dominate the English Chocolate Business?

The Quakers have been a stubborn lot.

(They) were prohibited from getting academic degrees, so some of the traditional routes to respectable careers — medicine, law — were blocked off. The courses of study weren’t in keeping with Quaker religious standards anyway (“pagan” philosophy, “lascivious” poetry), and as Quakers increasingly engaged in wider English society and “worldly” activities like banking, commerce and retail in the 18th and 19th century, integrating their religious and ethical precepts into their business practices.

So what does that have to do with chocolate?

Chocolate was considered an “innocent trade,” as it was believed to have medicinal purposes and didn’t lead people into evil. Selling chocolate brought enjoyment and good health through the gifts of God’s nature. There was no moral corruption in making a nice cup of cocoa as there was in manufacturing weapons. Quakers went into the chocolate business when it was purely a beverage, developing it into the bar and candy empire that it is today. By the early 20th century, the three top chocolate and confectionary companies in England were Quaker owned and operated.

But things took a more controversial turn in 1899, when Queen Victoria desired to send specially ordered chocolate bars to British troops fighting the Boer War. What happened? And how does that relate to an auction that closes on July 10th?

Read on my friend from the very entertaining History Blog! And enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. while you are at it!