Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Republicans Lie

A bold statement, perhaps, but I'm quoting a friend who worked for years in broadcast journalism, and had the opportunity to see many politicians up close and personal.  His sad conclusion, he told me, was that Republicans lie.

The most recent confirmation comes from Tom Moran of the NJ Star-Ledger Editorial Board on Chris Christie's record of non-veracity.  Politifact's "Truth-o-meter" tells us that 68% of Ted Cruz's statements are false.  And let's not forget Mitt Romney's serial dishonesty during his 2012 election campaign, which justified a weekly update of untruths from Steve Benen with the appropriate title of Mitt's Mendacity.

Now stand by for a wave of untruth as the 2016 campaigns come closer.  I suspect the zombie lies we have already been hearing from Republicans will seem mild by comparison.

Update 7/6/2015  And it continues....

Update 8/13/2015  And continues....

Update 9/1/2015  False and misleading...   (Aka par for the course)

Update 11/30/2015  Catherine Rampell points out how the news media aids and abets the untruth tellers.
While Brian Beutler adds to the catalog.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why the Right Opposes Gay Marriage

I think Amanda Marcotte is on to something in her explanation for the right wing's fierce opposition to gay marriage and their frantic call to maintain "traditional marriage". 
She writes:
The tradition that is disappearing is the belief that marriage is a duty, especially for women  ........  Marriage is, bit by bit, becoming more about a partnership between equals who choose each other for the purpose of love and happiness. Which means it’s becoming less about giving men control over women’s lives. 
To accept same-sex marriage is to accept this modern idea that marriage is about love and partnership, instead of about dutiful procreation and female submission. Traditional gender roles where husbands rule over wives are disintegrating and that process is definitely helped along by these new laws allowing that marriage doesn’t have to be a gendered institution at all. 
"Giving men control over women's lives"  ...  we see that in the right wing efforts to deny contraception and abortion as well. It's all of a piece.

Another Press Fail

Ted Cruz appeared on The Today Show, interviewed by Savannah Guthrie.
"If a state clerk refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, would you agree with that too?" she asked Cruz on Monday morning, noting that people who once objected to interracial marriage used religion to support their beliefs.
"There’s no religious backing for that," Cruz responded.
The natural follow up would be something like, "But in the 1940s and 50s, people were claiming religious backing for their opposition to interracial marriage, just as you are doing today in opposing gay marriage.  Today, we look back and say that those people were using religion as a cover for their bigotry.  Aren't you concerned that fifty years from now, people are similarly going to be saying that you're using religion as a cover for bigotry?"

And if Cruz pointed out that the Bible condemns homosexuality, a further follow up might be, "Yes, but as well as homosexuality, the Bible also condemns eating shrimp, eating raw meat, eating rabbit, wearing linen and wool at the same time.  Does your religion mean you condemn people who do any of those things?  Do you never do any of those things because your religion forbids them?"

But network interviewers are too namby pamby to press politicians like that.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Undermining the First Amendment

From the NY Times:
 This month, in anticipation of the marriage ruling, Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, and Representative Raul Labrador, Republican of Idaho, introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which would push federal law far beyond the existing religious protections. Sure to be strongly opposed by civil rights groups and most Democrats, the bill would prohibit federal officials from penalizing individuals, businesses, charities or schools for actions based on a conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman.
The title of the proposed law is ironic, as it does exactly what the first amendment prohibits:  it establishes a religious belief as trumping the law of the land.

No Respect for Precedent

In his dissent in Lawrence v Texas, Justice Scalia observed:
"If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is 'no legitimate state interest' for purposes of proscribing that conduct ... what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising '[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution?' "
i.e. the logic of the majority opinion in Lawrence led ineluctably to the conclusion that gay marriage should be legal. And as the majority opinion in Lawrence became a legal precedent set by the highest court in the land, so a  lawyerly respect for precedent would have required Scalia and the other Republicans on the Supreme Court to uphold the right of gay people to marry when the issue came before them, no matter their personal views.

Their failure to do so exposed them as ideologues first, lawyers second.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Campaign Promise Already Kept

When Donald Trump announced his entry into the presidential race, he informed us that
"I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created I tell you that,”
Well, if reports like this are true, he is the first candidate to keep a campaign promise as part of his entry announcement: he gave jobs to a bunch of actors to come and applaud his announcement.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


From cdub24 at Daily Kos:

Bernie is the Obama we all wanted to elect in 2008.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lottery Winnings

Yes, the state run numbers game, aka the lottery, is with us for good or bad, but I do question the way prizes are distributed.

From time to time I see posted in store windows the top prize that will be awarded to a winning ticket; this sum sometimes exceeds $200 million.  Now consider who are the purchasers of lottery tickets: the poor, the indebted, the desperate.  How much would it take for them to get their lives back on track?  I would suggest a lot less than $200 million, and I also ask myself: just what is the average lottery ticket purchaser going to do with that much money?

It would make more sense to split the large prizes into a number of smaller amounts that would be enough to turn people's lives around (pay off debts, buy a house, get some job training, put kids through college), but not so huge a sum as to be overwhelming.  Say twenty $10 million prizes instead of one large prize.  So instead of the size of the prize going up week by week as there are no winning tickets, the number of prizes would go up.  Having a larger number of prizes increases the chance of picking a winning number combination, so we could have more winners, and so more people whose lives could be improved.

Update 1/10/2016  And now the top prize on the Powerball  has reached 1.3 billion dollars.  That could be split to make 130 ten million dollar winners.

Rodney King Redux

This video has much in common with the Rodney King recording.

The Salinas police chief explains:

As he says:
"This is where people need to understand that making a judgment based on a grainy video is not necessarily the best thing to do until you really understand exactly what you're looking for and understand what happened in the run up to it."
His statement could just as well be applied to the Rodney King video recording, but our lazy press continues to refer to the Rodney King forcible arrest as "the Rodney King beating".

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summing It Up

Commenter BoiseBoy on this post has a masterful summary:
Honest Question. What exactly does the Republican Party do for our country other than screw it up? They cut taxes for billionaires, run up the debt like drunken frat boys, start wars, limit freedom (marriage equality, reproductive choice, harsh prohibitions, mass incarceration, etc.), eliminate corporate regulation (which in turn causes situations like banks operating like casinos and causing the housing crash / Great Depression), make delusional Supreme Court decisions (like Citizen's United), obstruct and block anything that would actually help citizens, fight with one another to see who can be more reactionary, repress the ability for people to vote, deprive the poor of any semblance of dignity or sustainability, trash teachers and the higher education system, give credence to lunatics like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Nugent, the list just goes on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Jon Stewart Has a Theory

From his Daily Show interview with Stanley McChrystal:
The Iran-Iraq war of the eighties, right - Saddam and Iran are having this war.  We're funding Saddam; we're giving him arms.  Now, the general people who learned their lessons of war with Saddam are leading this ISIS - apparently there's a lot of command and control from Saddam's generals.  We are now in many ways on the side of Iran fighting these guys - and it looks like we've just shifted the Iran-Iraq war fifty miles north-east and switched sides.
As McChrystal observed, that might be overly simplistic - for one thing, Saddam's regime was a secular one - but there's some truth to Stewart's humorous observation. 

Right On Rick!

So Rick Santorum thinks "we’re probably better off leaving science to the scientists" on the question of global warming.

I completely agree.  Now if only he and the rest of the GOP would follow that advice....

Right On Rand!

It's not often that I agree with Rand Paul, but he's right to point out that there cannot be a "right" to health care.
“With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery,”
A right implies a corresponding duty.  We can talk of rights of free speech (a corresponding duty not to suppress it), against unreasonable search and seizure (a corresponding duty not to force one's way into your home), against arbitrary imprisonment,  and so on.  What we properly call "rights" have a corresponding duty not to do something harmful to you.

But when some people loosely talk of rights to health care, to housing, to food, and to education, then that implies someone has to provide you the medical attention, build you the house, grow you the food, and teach you whether you compensate them or not, and whether they want to or not.  In other words - involuntary servitude. 

It's more realistic to talk about ensuring our citizens have adequate health care, housing, food, and education as a matter of good public policy, not as a matter of rights.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Words of Wisdom

from Teddy Roosevelt:
"No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered — not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective — a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."
(Update 6/5/2015)  Robert Reich agrees:
 At a time of historic economic inequality, it should be a no-brainer to raise a tax on inherited wealth for the very rich.
The richest 1 percent of Americans now have 42 percent of the nation’s entire wealth, while the bottom 90 percent has just 23 percent.
That’s the greatest concentration of wealth at the top than at any time since the Gilded Age of the 1890s.
Instead of eliminating the tax on inherited wealth, we should increase it – back to the level it was in the late 1990s. The economy did wonderfully well in the late 1990s, by the way.
Adjusted for inflation, the estate tax restored to its level in 1998 would begin to touch estates valued at $1,748,000 per couple.
That would yield approximately $448 billion over the next ten years – way more than enough to finance ten years of universal preschool and two free years of community college for all eligible students.


Maybe some things shouldn't be revealed, lest they encourage would-be airplane hijackers.
 An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration revealed security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials, 
I'm a believer in transparency in government, but also in using discretion.

Hooray for the 'N' word!

And hooray to Bernie Sanders to bringing it into our political discourse.

I'm referring of course to the word "ninety" - as in ninety percent top marginal tax rate - the approximate rate we had in the Eisenhower years, when we were able to balance our federal budget, and raise the revenue to build the interstate highway system.

While 90% may not be the optimal top marginal tax rate for raising adequate revenue without doing economic damage (Diamond and Saez put the rate somewhere between 50% and 70%), Sanders is doing us a favor by putting the higher figure out for discussion - so that settling on a lower but still effective rate could seem reasonable.

(My own suggestions for marginal rates included in this post)