We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The unspoken truth is that if Charlie Rangel was a white, conservative Republican his Democrat colleagues and the usual suspects in the media would not be satisfied with his resignation from Ways and Means, nor his apology. They would demand his prosecution for alleged felonies.
There are four factors that helped drive up the price of real estate in the United States and create the housing bubble: The GSEs (Fannie and Freddie), the Community Reinvestment Act, expansionary monetary policy starting in 2001, and the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act that for the first time let people avoid capital gains on home price appreciation without having to rollover the gains into a bigger house.
The problem is that the very concept of addiction is controversial and philosophically problematic, touching on great questions of free will, emotion, and even spirituality. Most of this is beyond the scope of this post (and, it must be said, beyond the scope of this amateur philosopher), but it seems safe to say that addictions are never entirely chosen nor entirely determined. They always hover somewhere in between, and it's hard to get one's mind around that (sort of like the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics on a psychological level, perhaps...
Image is this year's Christmas Card from our friend, artist Elissa Gore