Sunday, June 30, 2013

Contrast the Statement of The Plaintiffs in California Prop 8 Case With Their Opponents

The Mean and Vicious Comments Speak for Themselves

It was thought that it would take at least several weeks before the legal niceties were done and same sex couples could get married in California and they won that right at the Supreme Court.  But sometimes justice does move swiftly and so the stay against same sex marriage was lifted almost immediately after the Supremes said it could be, with this result.  Here is what happened with the two women in the case.

im Wilson/The New York Times
Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who have been together for more than 15 years and have four sons, were married at San Francisco City Hall by Attorney General Kamala Harris on Friday.

Yeah, we can see how a scene like this would cause homophobic folks to spew . . . .

In City Hall in San Francisco, hundreds packed the rotunda — some weeping with joy — to watch Ms. Perry, in a beige suit, and Ms. Stier, in an eggshell dress, marry.

After standing in silence for the ceremony, the crowd erupted into cheers when Ms. Harris announced them “spouses for life.”

“These marriages are legitimate, they are legal and they are going to continue, and it’s about time,” Ms. Harris said.

And here are the comments of an opponent of equality and basic rights.

Andy Pugno, the general counsel for, said the court had rushed a decision on Proposition 8, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and called it a “disgraceful day for California.”

“This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hellbent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption,” he said in a statement.

“Outright corruption” huh,"lawlessness" huh?  That's all you got, that's your argument?

Nice going Andy, and thanks for giving us just one more reason why we and about everybody else are not on your side.

If the NCAA Were Defending Slavery Here’s What It Might Look Like

Fortunately All They Are Doing is Defending Exploitation of College Students

[Editor's note:  Anyone finding the following commentary offensive should not read it.]

Colleges and universities and their athletic organization, the NCAA make billions off of the efforts of college athletes.  In part they make these billions by denying the students who actually perform in athletic contests any share of the proceeds.  That this is or should be blatantly illegal is beside the point for the schools, they just want the money.

Because the NCAA sanctions the taking of the images of athletes and selling them for profit, without allowing the individuals themselves to share in the money or even have to give permission, a lawsuit is slowly, (very slowly) proceeding through the court system.  The latest element is an attempt to turn it into a class action suit.

Former college basketball standout Ed O'Bannon and his lawyers sought on Thursday to dramatically expand his lawsuit challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes in a move that could expose the organization and its member schools to billions of dollars in damages.

O'Bannon and his lawyers asked a federal court judge to turn their antitrust lawsuit into a class action, representing thousands of former and current college athletes. The lawsuit demands that the NCAA find a way to cut players in on the billions of dollars earned by college sports from live broadcasts, memorabilia sales, video games and in other areas.

The defense of the NCAA is not that what they are doing is right, but that they have to do it because they are entitled to make money off of the athletes.  Here is what the NCAA and the colleges say.

The NCAA argues that many of the athletes receive scholarships in exchange for playing sports and to pay student athletes would ruin amateur athletics. To pay athletes more than that would ruin collegiate sports, the NCAA argues.

Of course the ruin would not be to college sports, the ruin would be to the huge monies that go to the NCAA, its officials and to colleges and universities. Penn State just gave its football coach a $900,000+ raise and somebody has to pay for that and why shouldn't it be student athletes.

When reading that paragraph one could easily imagine the same argument that the NCAA uses being applied to the issue of slavery in the 19th century.

Montgomery, Alabama (AP) June 22, 1857.  NCAA officials today intervened in the argument about slavery to state that slavery was necessary and that to free slaves would ruin agriculture and industry in the areas that had slavery.

“Slave owners already provide slaves and their families with free room and board, and free medical care” an unnamed official of the NCAA said.  “to give them money for their labor and to allow them to actually leave slavery and live as free individuals would ruin those industries that depend on slave labor for their profits.”

The NCAA went on to argue that slaves should be denied any redress by the courts, stating that “Hey, they are slaves, doesn’t anyone get that?”

Yeah, that’s probably what it would have sounded like.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

More Evidence That Those Who Think Cutting National Debt is the Critical Economic Policy

How Can People Who Are So Wrong Continue to Be Taken Seriously

There has been a significant policy divide since the Great Recession started over five years ago.  One group has advocated Keynesian fiscal policy expansion, with lower taxes and higher government spending.  The other group looked at a growing national debt and said that bringing the debt under control was paramount, and that austerity with rising taxes and most importantly cutting government spending was the right thing to do.

The results of this policy contest have been in for a long time.  The austerians lost.  Their policies, which have been implemented in Europe have been an economic disaster.  In the United States the fiscal expansion was ill conceived and poorly executed, but the fact that there was fiscal expansion meant the U. S. has had a period of economic growth and declining unemployment. 

The deficit hawks have not given up, they will never give because to give up is to admit they were wrong, and if millions have to suffer because they will not face reality, well too bad.  So according to conservatives, rising debt will result in a huge increase in interest rates, so much so that a country will be unable to borrow and the entire economy will collapse.

Well, Japan has had rising deficits, deficits that have resulted in a national debt much greater than that of the U. S. compared to its GDP.  So here is what has happened to interest rates.

Interpretation:  Once again conservatives are wrong, wrong, wrong.  Will being wrong, wrong, wrong stop the news media from taking these people seriously?  Be serious.

Maine Gov. LePage Has a Message for All Those Outraged Republicans Who Were Offended by So-Called Personal Attacks

Maybe You Ought to Look at Me First

Listen to any conservative Republicans and the one theme that dominates is how outraged they are over people who disagree with them, and people who occasionally put those disagreements into inappropriate personal attacks.  President Obama of course heads the list of poeple who offend them, but everyone else who is not a rabid conservative is also on that list.

In Maine though, the current highly conservative Governor has a long history of denigrating in a highly personal way those with whom he would disagree.  And in his latest fulminations he shows just what a nasty piece of work he is.

Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday said a Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Troy Jackson of Aroostook County, “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

LePage also said that Jackson has a “black heart” and that he should go back in the woods and cut trees “and let someone with a brain come down here and do some good work.”

Now we are not sure exactly what the Vaseline reference refers to, and no we don’t want to speculate.  But contrast the Governor’s statements with the response from his Democratic opponents.

Jackson, a logger by trade, responded by saying that though he’s often at odds with the governor, the chief executive’s bluster doesn’t bother him.

“I don’t think I have a black heart; most people know I have a good heart,” Jackson said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t have any problem with anyone saying anything about what I stand for. He can say whatever he wants; I just think it’s inappropriate the way he said it. We can be disagreeable without making nasty comments like that.”

The people in Maine are an intelligent, generous and thoughtful group.  We assume that when they voted for the current Governor they had no idea what they were getting, and we hope that given the next opportunity they vote his sorry butt out of office.  And if they do let’s also hope that they give him some Vaseline to ease the slide.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Senate Engages in Exercise in Futility – Passes Immigration Bill That is Doomed in the House

What a Waste of Time – Thanks Gerrymandering

People who ought to know better are praising the passage of an immigration reform bill in the United States Senate.  First of all the bill is not much of reform.  Secondly, it spends huge resources to try and solve a problem that has largely been solved, namely the influx of massive numbers of illegal immigrants from Mexico.  But the real problem with the bill is that in its present form it will not receive a vote in the House.

The reason for this is the difference between the House and Senate.  Senators are elected statewide, and have to represent all of the citizens of the state.  Representatives are only answerable to their district.  And the Republicans have so succeeding in rigging districts that despite the fact that Democrats received more than 1.5 million votes for House members than Republicans, Republicans hold a majority of the House.

The Senate bill could probably pass in the House which is why the House leadership will not allow a vote on it.  Democracy, we don’t need no stink’in democracy.

The One Basic Question All Journalists Should Ask Comes From Britain

So the United States Can Still Learn Something From Our English Speaking Cousins

The New York Times has a nice story about how the current media is dominated by Brits, and they are doing very well at it.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Comedy Central
John Oliver, who is hosting “The Daily 
Show” this summer, is one of many
 British imports gaining visibility in
 American media.
Piers Morgan came from Britain to take over for Larry King, The Wall Street Journal is edited by Gerard Baker, a British newspaper veteran, and the chief executive of The New York Times is Mark Thompson, who spent his career at the BBC. Anna Wintour has edited Vogue for more than two decades and, more recently, Joanna Coles took over Cosmopolitan, which defines a certain version of American womanhood.

NBC News recently looked to the mother country for leadership and found Deborah Turness, the former editor of Britain’s ITV News. ABC’s entertainment group is headed by Paul Lee, also formerly of the BBC, and Colin Myler, a Fleet Street alum, edits The New York Daily News.

The list goes on, but the point is made: when it comes to choosing someone to steer prominent American media properties, the answer is often delivered in a proper British accent.

No question the British are very good at this sort of thing, although to listen to the new, temporary  host of the Daily Show it is clear that writing is as important or more important than performing.  And here, without further comment is one reason why.

It’s a very British way of thinking. The one question all young reporters on Fleet Street are taught to keep foremost in their mind when interviewing public figures can be best paraphrased as, “Why is this jerk lying to me?”

New Rule Needed – You Give Up Your Child for Adoption You Have Given Up Your Child for Adoption

Is It That Hard to Understand?

Congress sometimes, not always, not very often in fact,  sometimes acts with good intentions.  It passed a law that works to prevent Native American families from being broken up by giving special rights to the parents.  And in an incredible scenario a case involving the law and a specific adoption went to the Supreme Court.  And in an even more incredible scenario, the child and her adoptive family won.

A sharply divided Supreme Court delivered a 3-year-old girl back to her adoptive parents from her biological father Tuesday despite her 1% Cherokee blood.

The facts supporting the decision were straight forward.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito ruled for the majority that the law's ban on breaking up Native American families cannot apply if the family didn't exist in the first place. He noted the father had not supported the mother during pregnancy, texted his willingness to give up parental rights, and only changed his mind much later.
"In that situation, no Indian family is broken up," Alito said.

So no Mr. Wanna-Be father, you had your opportunity and you didn’t take it.  Your child is not a basketball to be tossed around on your whim.  And going forward the law ought to be changed and be the same for everyone.  You give up your child, it is irrevocable, no taking back, no second look, no do-overs. 

For reasons beyond understanding some of the liberal Justices opposed the decision, and good ole Justice Scalia chimed in to support the rights of the Father, arguing the father has rights too.  No Justice Scalia, the father did have rights but he gave them up, didn't you even bother to read the case?

So no taking back, a child's life is what is paramount here, not Justice Scalia's cherished goal to make sure the father can ruin a child's life. The welfare of the child is paramount here.   No disturbing the child, never, ever.  Is that clear enough for everyone?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Commentary and Observations on the Court Rulings on Same Sex Marriage

Read ‘Em and Weep, Conservatives

The electronic airwaves will be filled with commentary on the Supreme Court rulings on same sex marriage.  Here are the some observations they will probably overlook.

  1. Justice Scalia in his dissent in DOMA was horrified, horrified that the Court had the temerity to rule an act of Congress unconstitutional.  The previous day Judge Scalia was a deciding vote in ruling that the key element of the Voting Rights Bill, enacted and renewed by Congress was unconstitutional.

  1. The news reports showed large crowds of jubilant supports of equality for marriage.  There may have been large crowds from the opposition, but none were seen or observed.  No massive number of protesters from the opposition were sighted or seen.

  1. The Court showed real cowardice in using a technicality to rule in the California case.  The proponents of Prop. 8 are wrong, completely wrong but they deserved their day in Court.

  1. The key element in the DOMA case was not  that same sex marriage was Constitutional.  It was that the Federal government could not treat legal marriages in the same state differently just because the Feds didn’t like same sex marriages.  Equal protection under the law means equal protection under the law. Period.

  1. Despite massive whining from Conservatives, the Federal government is, for all practical purposes out of the marriage business.  Unless another case goes to the Supreme Court marriage equality will now be fought out in the states.  Mississippi will be the last to legalize same sex marriage.  That’s only right, the state was about last in implement civil rights and equality for African Americans.  In fact Mississippi is last in about every desirable quality in a state, and no one wants them to lose that distinction, it may be all they really have.

  1. Going back to Justice Scalia, one of his points was that in the DOMA case the government had conceded the issue, so what was the point of deciding the case in the first place.  On this issue he had a point, but his dissent then descended into an unintelligible rant, rendering his valid point covered up by the mess of the rest of his commentary.

  1. Decades from now everyone will look back on this battle and say "What the heck it was all about?"

  1. Justice Alito had a dissent in the DOMA case that showed he took lessons from Justice Scalia in how to be totally unable to make an intelligent argument.  he said the DOMA case was about the Constitutionality of same sex marriage.  It wasn't, it was about equal protection.  How did these people get through a law school?

  1. In many cases the rulings will result in large tax benefits for same sex couples. How can Conservatives object to that?

  1. And how can anyone with any feelings whatsoever look at the expressions of pure delight and joy by those who now have equal rights on marriage and not feel that the right thing was done.

  1. Constitutonally, there may be no specific right to same sex marriage, but Constitutionally there certainly is no right to treat different groups differently for no other reason than animus.  In California the defenders of Prop. 8 lost because they could not show they were harmed by same sex marriage.  In fact, no one can show they were harmed by same sex marriage.  So de facto the Court ruled that there is a Constitutional right to same sex marriage.  That is the subtext of the rulings, but most people, and probably the some of the Justices themselves will not understand.

Virginia Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell Bills State for Personal Items – A Lot of Small Change Things

A Religious Conservative – He Probably Thinks It is OK if He Only Violates Policy in a Small Way

During the election Mitt Romney railed about how people who were living off of government felt they were entitled to all those government benefits and how they just took from everybody else.  Mr. Romney was talking about people on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Nutrition programs and the like, but it turns out he was also talking about Virginia’s Republican Governor Robert McDonnell.  Mr. McDonnell and his family apparently charged the state of Virginia for all sorts of personal items, and had state employees run personal errands for himself and his family.

Gov. McDonnell:  "Hey, its not like I was using food stamps or other things those useless, worthless
welfare recipients do"

The McDonnells have billed the state for body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins and a digestive system “detox cleanse,” the records show. They also have used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children. In the middle of a workday, for example, a staffer retrieved Rachel McDonnell’s newly hemmed pants at a tailoring shop nine miles from the governor’s mansion. Another time, a state worker was dispatched to a dry cleaner 20 miles away to pick up a storage box for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding dress.

When informed that this was wrong the McDonnells paid back some of the money, but apparently continued the practices of nickel and diming the state for little things.

About six months into the governor’s term, the official who oversees mansion spending told the McDonnells that they should not have charged taxpayers for a number of expenses, including deodorant, shoe repairs and dry-cleaning their children’s clothing. The official asked the McDonnells to pay the state back more than $300, which they did, and also gave them a refresher on what the state will and won’t provide for occupants of the governor’s mansion.

But since that time, state records show that the McDonnells have continued to let taxpayers pick up the tab for numerous personal items, including vitamins, nasal spray and sleep-inducing elixirs.

Now a reasonable question is “why?”.  The Governor makes a nice buck, and these were small, petty items.  So money was not the issue.  No what is probably going on here is a sense of entitlement, a sense that government owed the McDonnells these things in return for the McDonnells work for government.  So when Republicans complain about an “entitlement society” everyone hopes that they offer up Mr. McDonnell and his wife and family as exhibit A. 

And the next time Mr. Romney wants to speak on the issue, well, no one will be quick to criticize him if what he is talking about are politicians who take from the public because they are in their minds entitled to do so. 

Chicago To Close Public Schools and Help Fund Basketball Arena for DePaul University

Economic Development vs. Supporting Education – An Urban Dilemma

DePaul University is a private sectarian university in Chicago which , horror upon horror, plays its basketball games in the suburbs before relatively sparse crowds (mainly because the team is not very good.)  DePaul and the city of Chicago would like the school to play its games in Chicago.  So there is a proposal for the school, and a quasi governmental agency that runs McCormack Place and the city to fund a new arena for the school in downtown Chicago.

DePaul University
A rendering of the proposed basketball arena for DePaul. Chicago has promised to pay $33 million of the $173 million cost.

In May, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the university announced a proposal for a 10,000 seat, $173 million arena near McCormick Place, a convention center along the lakefront south of downtown. DePaul and the quasi-government agency that runs McCormick Place would chip in $70 million each for the publicly owned venture. The city’s tab would be $33 million, and that has created a bit of a stir.

Chicago of course is in dire financial straits and closing a large number of public schools in an attempt to consolidate education and reduce its budget deficit. (Exactly how DePaul has $70 million lying around to build a basketball arena is another question, but not one that is a particularly critical issue here.)   Helping to build a basketball arena for a private university seems like just a terrible idea.  But as usual, the issue is more complicated.  Chicago contends that this is part of economic development that will aid the city.

The city counters that calling the project only an investment in a basketball arena is shortsighted and incomplete. DePaul represents one piece of a $1.1 billion investment to boost tourism, a plan that includes adding amenities to McCormick Place, which has lost convention business to cities like Orlando and Las Vegas, and sprucing up Navy Pier, the state’s No. 1 tourist attraction, which is just north of downtown.

The arena is part of a goal to revitalize the South Loop neighborhood, and the project includes two hotels, new restaurants and areas for entertainment, and potentially a casino.

The arena would be an events center for concerts and conventions when DePaul is not playing, and the university has agreed to pay rent at $25,000 a game for men’s home dates and $7,500 for women’s games.

DePaul’s $70 million investment was needed, Tom Alexander, a city spokesman, said, because it would ensure that construction at Navy Pier and McCormick Place could proceed in tandem. “This is really a facility the entire city can use,” he said. “DePaul is helping facilitate it.”

Then there are the 10,000 construction and 3,800 permanent jobs that it would create, by the city’s math. The unemployment rate in the Chicago metro area is more than 9 percent.

“I would be safe to assume any city in the country would love to have these jobs and these types of announcements,” said Jorge Ramirez, the president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Are any of these promised economic development really going to happen?  Hard to say, cities and developers notoriously overestimate the public benefits of investment like this.  To argue that 10,000 construction jobs will be created is not credible.  And the construction jobs that are created will be temporary, short term and maybe even part time.

The solution here is to adopt what conservatives would propose if conservatives were true to their principles, which is to let market forces decide the issue.  In this situation the groups involved should form a corporation which will own and operate the arena, and borrow the funds for the city’s contribution amount with only the profits of the arena available to make the debt service payments.  If the proponents can convince the bond market that the project is viable great,  no problem.  If not, then why should the city get involved in a financial loser when it has so many other problems.

See, sometimes conservative principles are appropriate.  We just need principled conservatives to be present, which unfortunately is a harder proposition than borrowing money for a basketball arena for DePaul University.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just In – Senate Votes to Establish Border Patrol Officers Shoulder to Shoulder Along Entire U. S. Mexican Border - Armed with Assault Rifles and Backed by Tanks

Republican Reaction – Democrats Still Not Serious About Stopping Illegal Immigrants

News That Didn’t Happen – But  Could

Trying to appease the unappeasable opponents of immigration reform the Senate today passed an amendment to the immigration reform law that would place a border patrol officer along every single foot of the border between the U. S. and Mexico.  The bill would result in the hiring of several million new officers.

How the U. S./Mexican border would look under the Senate plan.

In addition to the new force, the officers would each be provided with two assault weapons, 100,000 rounds of ammunition each and a Sherman tank would be behind every sixth officer.  Officers would stand at the border 24/7 and be instructed to kill anyone with less than pure white skin who approached them from the Mexican side of the border.

Conservative Republicans reacted to the amendment by saying once again Democrats were not serious about controlling the border, and that the latest changes to security would not result in any reduction in illegal immigrants.  “If they were really serious about enforcing the law” said a Republican member of the “We Hate People With Hispanic Names” informal group in the Senate, “they would vote for adequate resources instead of pussy footing around like this.”

In the House Republicans who are in favor of dealing with the problem of illegal immigrants by ignoring them said that they would support the government buying the guns and ammunition to implement the policy, but that they would still not support immigration reform.  “The assault weapons and 100,000 rounds per person of ammunition should be given to the law abiding citizens who can exercise their 2nd Amendment rights by shooting anyone who will not produce their papers” said a Republican who declined to be indentified for she said were “obvious reasons”.

In Case Anyone Was Wondering What Was Going to Happen After the Supreme Court Has Given Republicans the Go Ahead to Gut Voter Protection

From Taegan Goddard

June 25, 2013

Texas Moves to Implement Voter ID Law

With the Supreme Court suspending the mechanism that forced Texas to get a federal OK before it can implement any election law change, state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) said that "nothing now can stop the state from activating its controversial voter ID law," theDallas Morning News reports.

Said Abbott: "With today's decision, the State's voter ID law will take effect immediately. Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government."

WLTB-TV reports Miississippi will move ahead with its voter ID law too.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Embraces Obama Care Medicaid Expansion In Opposition with Republicans

And His Popularity . . .

By and large the voting public is not stupid.  Voters do get frustrated with Democrats, whose policies they generally support because Democrats are often ineffective and incompetent managers of government.  And Democratic legislators are usually just as corrupt as their Republican counterparts.  So many times voters will put Republicans in office as a desperate attempt to get at least a partly effective government.  North Carolina is a great example.  Republicans won big there because of poor Democratic candidates and governance.

In Florida the voters put an extremist, a divisive and a highly partisan Republican, Rick Scott in the Governor’s chair.  Mr. Scott immediately went on to alienate the voters to such an extent that former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican turned Independent turned Democrats has been leading Mr. Scott in all the polls.  But Gov. Scott is seeing his popularity increase, at least a little bit.

Rick Scott is pictured. | AP Photo
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida - Embraces Medicaid Expansion and His Ratings Increase!

Also trending up, 43 percent of those surveyed approved of the job Scott was doing as governor, the highest number he’s gotten so far, and up 7 points since March.

Though only 35 percent responded that Scott should be reelected compared with 50 percent who said he shouldn’t be, those numbers have also improved for Scott over the last six months.

As for what could have caused this change, it seems the only explanation is that the Governor has tried to bring expanded Medicaid coverage to Florida residents.  He has championed this common sense, common decency policy over the strong objections of Republican lawmakers, Republican who of course have wonderful health insurance paid for by the state of Florida

So yes, all those critics of the health care reform legislation that think Americans will recoil at its implementation, meet recently re-elected President Obama and recently improving in popularity Gov. Rick Scott.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yes We Want to Support NPR – But Why Are They Making It So Hard to Do So

Is NPR Special – Or Just Another Non Profit Getting Fat and Ugly

It is bad enough to suffer the attacks of right wing critics, but even worse is to provide those critics with the gun, ammunition and a clear target.  Yet this is just what National Public Radio has done in building a new, expensive luxurious headquarters building in D.C.

NPR's $200 million palace - Built with support from people like you (and I) -
people who may be fools.

First of all they didn’t just build an office building, they built a palace.

NPR’s gleaming new headquarters building in the shadow of the Capitol in Washington has soaring ceilings, a “wellness” center, an employee gym and a gourmet cafe staffed by a resident chef.

Oh but they say, this wasn’t built with taxpayer money,

NPR officials point out, the new headquarters wasn’t financed with tax dollars, at least not directly. The organization raised funds through a combination of tax-free bonds, individual donations and the proceeds from the sale of its old building.

But yes some taxpayer subsidization was involved.

the District granted $40 million in tax abatements and froze property taxes on the site for 20 years as part of a deal to keep NPR from moving out of the city. NPR had considered a site in Silver Spring.

Having a building in downtown Washington is about the most expensive way to go.  And those of us who support NPR and its mission are certainly going to think twice about making any contributions to an organization so politically tone deaf, so lacking in understanding of what it means to be a non-profit and so possessing a feeling of entitlement that it would lavish itself with a luxury building.

NPR now joins the ranks of other national non-profits who think that the public support, whether from tax dollars or contributions entitle them to pay huge salaries to executive, to have great benefits and to provide employees with the Taj Mahal of office space.  Maybe it’s a disease of post-modern America, maybe this disease has no cure.

Mitt Romney, when asked to come up with cost savings famously said he would cut support for public radio, a statement that only revealed his utter ignorance on public policy (the elimination of the federal subsidy would not make the slightest dent in public spending or the national debt).  But as a cultural issue maybe Mitt was on to something.  Maybe all of us should redirect our efforts and support only those local groups that we know are using the money to fund its mission, not to fund a workplace palace.

Justices Punt on Affirmative Action Case with University of Texas

Send Case Back to Lower Courts for ‘Strict Scrutiny’ Whatever That Is

The Dismal Political Economist Was Wrong – Sort Of

The Supreme Court has issued a ruling in a case involving whether or not the University of Texas may take race into account in deciding who gets to be admitted to its freshman class.  This Forum expected the ruling to state that under no circumstances could racial diversity be considered as an admissions criteria because, you know, this might result in just more horrible discrimination against rich white people.

Instead of ruling on the merits of the case the Court decided to send the case by to a lower court and to tell that court to use the standard of strict scrutiny to determine if the University of Texas was in violation of various Supreme Court decisions and the Constitution.

The thinking here is that the four conservatives on the Court realized that they did not have the vote of Justice Kennedy to rule that no consideration of race can ever by allowed, and so they agreed with all of the other Justices except  Ginsburg to just avoid the issue.  The Conservatives obviously feel they are just one Justice away from getting their way on a lot of these issues, and that Republicans in the Senate will never ever again confirm a nominee from a Democratic President. So they decided to wait it out.

All of this may be moot as this fall the Justices will consider whether or not Michigan can amend their state Constitution to prohibit any consideration of race in college admissions.  Apparently Michiganders feels that all white college classes are a plus.

Also of interest is Justice Thomas’s opinon in which he once again rants and rails against racial preferences.  Everyone knows that this is personal, that Justice Thomas believes racial preferences have tainted Justice Thomas’s career, as well they have.  Without preferential treatment because of his race Justice Thomas would likely have had a legal career only as a mid level government attorney.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Dismal Political Economist Non-Interview with Virginia Lt. Gov. Nominee E. W. Jackson

What We Think Mr. Jackson Might Have Said Had He Agreed to an Interview

Editors note: The following is not an interview with Republican E. W. Jackson, a Harvard Law Grad and minister who has just been made the nominee of that party for Lt. Governor in the fall elections in Virginia.  

In an incredible turn of events, the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor in Virginia is making more news and getting more attention than the Republican nominee for Governor.  The reason is that the Lt. Governor nominee, Rev. E. W. Jackson has a rather radical past in terms of his strong right wing views.  He hates gays, he compares Planned Parenthood unfavorably to the Klu Klux Klan, and of course like all radical conservatives he believes President Obama secretly sympathizes with Muslim extremists. 

This Forum would have requested a formal interview with Mr. Jackson, but since neither he nor anyone else has ever heard of The Dismal Political Economist we thought it would be more accurate to make stuff up.  So here is what we think such an interview might have been like.  The information on Mr. Jackson is largely from a profile by Betsy Woodruff in NRO Online, a conservative website.

DPE:  Mr. Jackson, you have said that Planned Parenthood has been worse for African Americans than the Klu Klux Klan.  Can  you explain?

Mr. Jackson:  Well the KKK assaulted, mutilated and killed African Americans. Now Planned Parenthood provides access to abortions for women, which just because that is a lawful practice doesn’t mean women should be allowed to have abortions or control over their own bodies.  But Planned Parenthood is worse than the KKK because it also provides health care for low income women, many of whom are African Americans.  This fosters a sense of dependency in those women, and as a result they become slaves to Planned Parenthood and get health they otherwise could not afford.  It would be far better for these women to die of disease and lack of adequate treatment than to get health services from people who just want to pursue their socialist agenda.
Spelling Doesn't Count

DPE:  In your book,  Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True, you condemn meditation and yoga because you say it empties the body and allows Satan to enter.  What is your advice to people who want to meditate?

Mr. Jackson:  While I myself have not seen satan enter bodies while they are doing Yoga, I have talked to people who know people who have seen that happen.  Satan just loves Yoga.  And he loves yougurt as well.  And as we all know yogurt is a foreign food, and like all foreign foods it corrupts Americans.  Satan can easily enter a home in the form of hummus, ravioli, or even a Greek salad. 

DPE:  Uh, I think you are confusing yoga and yogurt, but let’s move on.  What is it you have against meditation?

Mr. Jackson:  Well mediation tries to bridge differences between groups, usually an evil group like a labor union and a good pious group like a business.  And further more the government even has a mediation service, and if I am elected I will work to see that all mediation is removed from our lives.

DPE:  Uh, I think you are confusing mediation and meditation, but let’s move on again.  In your ministry you collect a lot of money for yourself, like “Bishop’s Birthday,” “Bishop & 1st Lady Wedding Anniversary,” “Founder’s Week (& Too Much Blessing Seed)” and “Bishop’s Vacation”.  Do you have any concerns this might be interpreted as using church contributions for your own benefit?

Mr. Jackson:  You know the mark of a pious man is one who gives his wife a nice anniversary present, or takes her on a nice vacation.  An I believe that a Divine presence has ordained that my congregation provide me with these things.  Most of these people are poor, and about the only pleasure in life many of them have is providing me with things that they themselves can’t have.  And in return I am able to give them a weekly lecture on how evil gays, liberals, Democrats, and Muslims are.  I call that my “This Week in Tolerance” lecture.

DPE:  Let’s turn to financial matters. According to your interview with Ms.Woodruff in NRO Online, For those with financial difficulties, Jackson recommends meditation on Scripture verses promising wealth.  What about things like credit counseling or laws that protect people from being scammed or cheated.  Should government be involved here?

Mr. Jackson:  If government gets involved in this area it is taking over an area that is really the province of religion.  Religion will not only protect people from financial harm, it will also provide them with a really good income, as it does for me.  When government gets involved in doing things like consumer protection, which is really God’s work then we no longer have separation of church and state.  I think any consumer protection laws violate the Constitution.  About the only thing right here is the special tax breaks the government provides for members of the clergy.  Those tax breaks are clearly mandated by the Supreme Being.

DPE:  Again from the NRO article, Jackson used quotes from George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln to argue that America’s founders wanted Christianity to have a prominent role in public discourse.  Since Christianity is not mentioned in either the Declaration or the Constitution, why do you think the founding fathers wanted Christianity in government?

Mr. Jackson:  Well look, isn’t it obvious.  Christianity is the only true religion so of course they wanted government to sponsor and support it.  But you know, I think there were a couple of Jews and maybe some other people who were not Christians involved here, so they just left that stuff out so as not to irritate the unbelievers.  And what people don’t understand is that the concept of Freedom of Religion means people can choose to be Methodists, or Baptists or Congregationalist, really whatever Protestant sect they want to belong to.  When godless liberals argue that the Constitution provides religious freedom for all faiths they are just trying to destroy what everyone knows is the true religion. 

DPE:  Turning to the gay community, you have said some pretty strong things against them.  Do you regret that now that you are running for public office?

Mr. Jackson:  I don’t think I will lose any votes in the gay community.  They know what they are doing is wrong and they appreciate that I have the courage to say so.  Every gay person I meet, well I mean, I haven’t met any yet, but if I did meet one I am sure he or she would support me.  After all, I don’t think they should be put in prison for being gay, just condemned to eternal damnation and that they should rot in hell in the afterlife.  The makes me a moderate in the Republican party.

DPE:  Do you believe in evolution or creationism?

Mr. Jackson:  Monkeys don’t reproduce humans.  Monkeys reproduce monkeys. 

DPE:  Well thanks for your time, anything you would like to add?

Mr. Jackson:  Do you know anybody at Harvard?  I keep getting letters from them saying they either want my law degree back, or if not, that I should not ever tell anyone I got a law degree from Harvard.  I may need some help here. 

CNN Poll Shows a Majority of Americans Do Not Support Health Care Reform Law – But Conservatives Are Not Happy

Why – Because the Law Did Not Do Enough

The Republicans have made repeal of the health care reform law their number one priority.  We know this because despite the fact that the Senate will not even vote on repeal and despite the fact that the President would veto any repeal even if the Senate did vote to repeal, the Republican majority in the House continues to vote to repeal.

Now a new CNN poll should give Republicans some comfort, but it doesn’t.  The poll found that

43% of the public says it supports the health care law, a figure that's mostly unchanged in CNN polling since the measure was passed in 2010 by a Congress then controlled by Democrats and signed into law by President Barack Obama. Fifty-four percent of those questioned say they oppose the law, also relatively unchanged since 2010.

Wow, that sounds like a clear defeat for the President, except for this.

But a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday also indicates that more than a quarter of those who oppose the law, known by many as Obamacare, say they don't support the measure because it doesn't go far enough.. . .

The survey indicates that 35% oppose the health care law because it's too liberal, with 16% saying they oppose the measure because it isn't liberal enough.

So no, Americans are not on the side of Republicans on this issue.  And no, not exactly big news.  Once they know the facts and get past the spin most Americans are not on the side of Republicans on any issue.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

These Are the People in Savannah Who Support Paul Deen Her Cooking Style

A Picture Worth Several Thousand Pounds

From the New York Times we have an article about the controversy involving Food Network Cooking Show Hose and Restaurateur Paula Deen.  Here are the people who presumably eat her food regularly at her restaurant to support her.  No further commentary needed, at least on her type of food.

Dylan Wilson for The New York Times
People lined up Saturday outside Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah, Ga. Many were angry that Food Network had dropped Ms. Deen.

Note to Conservatives Who Hate Gay People – Disney Channel Show to Feature Child with Two Moms in a Show

Hey Conservatives – When You Have Lost the Disney Channel, You Have Lost

As everyone waits to see how the Supreme Court will deal with the emerging trend in the United States towards equality for gay and lesbian couples, the news that the Disney Channel will have a child with two moms in a show on one of its featured series should say just about all that needs to be said about the role of gay couples in this nation.  Here are the details, via Think Progress

These look like good Americans to us
In a first for the Disney Channel, next season an episode of Good Luck Charlie will feature a family with two moms.

Producers are currently casting the couple, with production set for next week. The episode will air in early 2014 as part of Good Luck Charlie's final season. Because Good Luck Charlie is coming to a close, the characters are only expected to appear in this one episode.

In the storyline, parents Amy and Bob Duncan (Leigh-Allyn Baker and Eric Allan Kramer) set up a playdate for preschooler Charlie (Mia Talerico) and one of her new friends. When the kid arrives, the Duncans learn that Charlie's pal has two moms. That's fine, but the potential new friendship is put to the test as one mom chats with Amy, and the other is stuck listening to Bob's dull stories.

In actual fact the Disney corporation has for a long time been a leader in providing equality for gay and lesbian employees and while this may seem horrific to the so-called-but-not-really religious conservatives, the episode where a character has two moms is just the next natural step.

So regardless of what the Supreme Court says on gay marriage, equality and decency is on the march.  And no conservatives, you cannot stop it, and why on earth would you want to?

Republicans Give Up Completely on Democracy – Unless People Will Vote Their Way

For Republicans Voting Against Them is Just Not American

How They Must Long for a Soviet Style State

This Forum has long documented the electoral abuses of Republicans, who basically make every attempt they can to keep democracy from working.  Their main target is voting.  Their problem, they cannot win a fair fight, they cannot get approval of their radical agenda most of the time unless the contest is fixed.

Case in point is the fact that the Republicans control the House of Representatives.  They do this in the era of ‘one man, one vote’ even though they were outvoted for the House by over 1.5 million votes.  They were able to do this because unlike Democrats who also gerrymander, Republicans have taken the process to a whole new level, and with computer assistance they are able to slice and dice electoral districts to accomplish what voters would seek to deny them, majority representation in the House.

And now Speaker John Boehner has just announced that if a majority of Republicans don’t support an immigration bill, he will not allow the House to vote on one.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he will not advance any bill that did not have the support of a majority of the House GOP, which will mean engaging some of the proposals’s biggest detractors and harshest critics.

So even if a bill could pass because Democrats and some Republicans have more yes votes than the opposition has no votes, you know, majority rules, it won’t pass because no vote will be taken.

And while this is another blow to Democracy, in one sense if Republicans block a vote the action will be highly instructional and beneficial for the country.  Americans need to know and understand exactly what Republicans are, and since Democrats are totally ineffective in communicating that to them, they are just going to have to see for themselves.

So thanks Republicans for giving everyone this lesson in democracy.  The country needed it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Prominent Non-Governmental Conservatives in Freedom Federation Vow to Fight Any Ruling That Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

Exactly How They Are Going to Fight  - Read On

With the Supreme Court ruling on several cases involving same sex marriage expected to be released in the coming week, a group of hard line conservatives have issued an ultimatum, although we have no idea what their ultimatum means.

"As Christians united together in defense of marriage, we pray that this will not happen. But, make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the true common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross."

Now those seem to be fighting words, abut exactly how they intend to fight was not made clear.  So here is what we think will happen.

A group of religious conservatives banded together under the organizational umbrella of the Freedom Federation and declared that they will fight the right to marriage equality and the right of same sex couples to marry by utterly and totally refusing to marry a person of the same sex.

“We are taking this drastic step to save America” declared a spokesman for the group “and under no conditions, regardless of the use of force, torture or the withholding of pie will we ever relent and marry a person of the same sex.  Any attempts to force any of us to marry a person who is not of the opposite sex will be met with our steady resolve and the invocation of the Almighty to rain down fire and brimstone, whatever the heck brimstone is,  on those who would force us to wed against our moral principles.”

A spokesman for a coalition of religious group supporting tolerance and freedom and equality when asked to comment said “What the hell, pardon the profanity, are these people talking about?” and went on to raise the question “are these people nuts?”  Later in the day an informal committee of mental health experts confirmed that yes, these people were, to use the clinical terminology, ‘crazy as bats’.  They later retracted that statement when bats complained about being lumped together with the Freedom Federation folks.

Free Market Republicans (And Democrats) Vote to Restrict Free Markets – Keep Tesla Autos From Being Sold Direct

Is There Any of Their So-Called Principles That Conservatives Will Not Violate

The bedrock of modern Conservatism is cutting taxes for wealthy people, but in second place is devotion to free enterprise.  Economic activity should be controlled by market forces according to Conservatives, and government intervention should almost never take place.  So if Tesla Motors, a company that markets a very pricey electric car wants to sell it autos directly to consumers without having local auto dealers, then it should be able to , right?

No, wrong, at least not in North Carolina where Republicans have taken over state government and are imposing the Republican style of things on the citizens of that state.  And so when Tesla wanted to sell directly to consumers in North Carolina, Republicans (and Democrats) moved heaven and earth to say NO NO NO.  If you want to sell autos in North Carolina  you have to have local dealerships.

Elon Musk made a fortune disrupting the status quo in online shopping and renewable energy. Now he's up against his toughest challenge yet: local car dealers.

Mr. Musk, the billionaire behind PayPal and now Tesla Motors Inc.,  wants to sell his $70,000 Tesla electric luxury vehicles directly to consumers, bypassing franchised automobile dealers. Dealers are flexing their considerable muscle in states including Texas and Virginia to stop him.

The latest battleground is North Carolina, where the Republican-controlled state Senate last month unanimously approved a measure that would block Tesla from selling online, its only sales outlet here. Tesla has staged whiz-bang test drives for legislators in front of the State House and hired one of the state's most influential lobbyists to stave off a similar vote in the House before the legislative session ends in early July.

The rationale of course is a desire to protect consumers (yeah Republicans can say that with a straight face) but really, no one who can afford a $70,000 car needs much consumer protection.  The real motivations is protection of existing car dealerships, so if that means massive intrusion by government into what should be an open and free and no-entry barrier market, well, that’s just Republicans being Republicans, or as it is spelled in the Tar Heel State, h y p o c r i t e s.  And if Democrats are going along, well, why fight a losing battle and make enemies of powerful business groups.
Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal
Tesla 'galleries' such as this one in
 McLean, Va., can show but not sell cars.

The protectionists are not winning everywhere.

Many more battles remain. Tesla defeated a bill in Minnesota that would have blocked sales. But in Virginia, the state Department of Motor Vehicles has so far refused to issue Tesla a license to operate a company store.

Hm, let’s see.  Minnesota is run by Democrats, but in Virginia radical conservatives control state government.  What does that tell you about Republican principles?  Assuming of course, you could locate some.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Major Victory for All Americans as House Rejects Farm Bill –

A Legislative Proposal That Was Probably One of the Worst Ever

Normally when the Republican controlled House blocks legislation the nation suffers, but in the case of the Senate passed 10 year Farm Bill, rejection by the House was just a huge plus for the American people  This bill was one of the worst ever considered in Washington, and its defeat will hopefully mean that real farm reform legislation can take place and that adequate funding for nutrition needs can be provided. 

Why was the bill so bad?  Consider these things.

The House bill would have cut projected spending in farm and nutrition programs by nearly $40 billion over the next 10 years. Just over half, $20.5 billion, would have come from cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. The House bill, like the Senate’s version, would have eliminated $5 billion a year in direct payments to farmers, which are made annually whether or not they grow crops.

Billions of dollars saved by eliminating the payments would be directed into a $9 billion crop insurance program. New subsidies would be created for peanut, cotton and rice farmers. Lawmakers left intact the sugar program, keeping price supports and restrictions on imports.

The subsidies for crop insurance would have meant billions going to very wealthy farmers, and little benefit for the so-called family farms, many of which no longer exist.  Subsidies for various crops, all supported by so-called Conservatives would have remained in place and nutrition assistance in the form of food stamps for those who literally cannot afford to buy enough to eat would have been drastically cut.

No one is sure what will happen as current farm legislation expires.  But whatever happens it is hard to see how it could be worse than what the Senate passed and the House rejected.

Thanks Republicans, sometimes you help the nation in spite of yourselves.