supreme court

As The Supreme Court has been handing down decisions over the last couple of weeks, it is interesting to try to follow their logic:

  • Constitutionality can be determined with a tape measure, but proper distance varies -  The court said that Massachusetts law that created a 35 foot protest buffer zone around the entrance of abortion clinics was unconstitutional.  This despite the fact that the Supreme Court enjoys its own protest buffer zone (which happens to be greater than 35 feet…by a good bit).  And while the decision was technically 9-0, some of the justices suggested that a lesser distance would be ok.  Not sure how distances worked its way into the Constitution.  Ten feet is free speech, but thirty-five feet is not?  But then one hundred and fifty feet is free speech again around the Supreme Court?  (How great the distance 35 feet is would be a matter of perspective.)
Supreme Court Justice, "But we are very important people."

Supreme Court Justice, “But we are very important people.”

  • Corporations are people my friend – Mitt Romney was pretty much right as far as the law sees.  Corporations can exercise its freedom of religion, though it is hard to see how legal entities could have any views on religion or anything else for that matter.  (It is also hard to see how Hobby Lobby was particularly burdened by its health care plan providing coverage for contraceptives when prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, their health care coverage DID cover contraceptives and the owners of Hobby Lobby didn’t even notice.)
  • The court can change its mind within 24 hours – One of the things that the Hobby Lobby ruling noted was that those with a religious objection could fill out a form asking for an exemption.  As such, the government could easily accommodate the religious views of organizations.  But then the next day, it ruled that Wheaton College could even opt out of filling out the form asking for an exemption because apparently even filling out a form is an overwhelming burden against its religious beliefs.   Guess the court forgot what it had said the day before.
  • The Senate can totally fake it – President Barack Obama tried to make appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was off.  However the Senate (with the exact purpose of preventing such a thing) held what was called pro forma sessions, which basically means somebody comes in a slams the gavel down twice and it counts as “being in session”, not in recess.  The Supreme Court said that was good enough for them.  (In fairness, it was Democrats that created this tactic, so they shouldn’t have been surprised to see it used against them.  In fairness to we the people though, such shenanigans shouldn’t be allowed by either party in my view.)
Must...take...loss...with...dignity.  Must...try...to....smile.

Must…take…loss…with…dignity. Must…try…to….smile.

Let me be the…er…probably last to express shock, shock I tell you, that GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary.  Apparently when in our local election a candidate referenced Eric Cantor as being not conservative enough, that actually did and does resonate with some voters.  Still, Cantor had a 95 (out of 100) lifetime conservative rating from The American Conservative Union.  So what the heck happened?  How does a guy like Eric Cantor lose to a Joe Blow nobody?  Surely it’s not because he’s only 95% conservative instead of 99.44% pure conservative.  Right?

First, let’s check Joe Blow’s credentials.  I assume he has a name other than Joe Blow.  Let’s see, looks like it’s David Brat.  He is a “true” conservative (not like that Cantor phony!).  Surprise, surprise, he’s going to end Obamacare.  He’s a ‘create jobs by getting rid of immigration’ type of guy, so there he earns double points.  Balance budget amendment…check.   Christian values under attack?  Oh yeah, and in a big way.   They are under attack in such a way that they threaten life itself!  Oh, and by the way, God is pro-gun.  Betcha didn’t know that!   So anyway, certainly a very conservaty conservative.

The punditry pretty much decided that Cantor lost because he had made some comments that could represent tepid support for very limited immigration reform.  In fact, they declared immigration reform is now dead.   Hmm….call me crazy, but for something to die, it must have been alive in the first place.  Immigration reform was never going anywhere.  It already didn’t have enough support.  It wasn’t one vote to the good and then they lost that vote or anything.  Nothing changed.  In fact, Eric Cantor was pretty much screaming to the roof tops that oh no, he did not support immigration reform.  So the idea that Eric Cantor was going to be some sort of knight in shiny armor riding in to save immigration reform is just false.

Really, I think the reason Cantor lost is more nuanced than just a single issue.  I think you can go into several factors.  One, it’s what can happen when not many voters show up at a primary…it just doesn’t take that many votes to swing an outcome.  (Brat only got 36,000 votes or so.)  It can be what happens when you gerrymander, the views in a single district can become pretty extreme.  I think perhaps Cantor was more vulnerable to the ‘establishment’ tag being an actual House leader and not just a rank and file member.  And there is certainly a segment of the electorate who do not believe that they send people to Washington to be pragmatic but rather to fight an “enemy” that is the other party on all fronts.  That means you fight the debt ceiling raises.  You go ahead and shut down government over budget issues.  Not just some of time, every time.  Anything else is losing.

More than anything, Cantor’s loss is not a sign of change.  It’s just another symptom of the way things have become.  The ‘do-nothing’ Congress controlled by Republicans will just continue to do nothing, at least while there’s still a Democrat in the White House.

Yeah, I know that makes me a bad citizen.  But here’s the thing, to matter in Alabama, you pretty much have to vote in the GOP primary, like it or not.  And since I am not a big fan of the current day GOP, right off the bat I get discouraged.  But we do have a recent opening for the U.S. House Rep (Spencer Bachus is finally leaving after what I am thinking is about 100 years of service).  So lots of candidates have jumped in (not often there’s not an incumbent running after all).  So the other day, I start my research:

Paul DeMarco

Let’s see, he is the “committed conservative” (good to know, don’t like that half-ass stuff!).  Ok, ending Obamacare, supporting local business (jobs!), balancing the budget, Christian values under attack….ok, looks like he hits all the “conservative” talking points.   Next.

Chad Mathis

Ooh, he’s a “movement conservative with a spine”!  (Paul  you wuss!)  Oh, he’s ending Obamacare*.  A small market businessman who will fight for the free market economy (jobs!).  Check off balancing the budget.  He is Christian. (Are the values under attack?  Anyway, since he opens with that, I am sure he will protect those values!)  *Uh oh, when you look at the fine print though, Chad Mathis actually SUPPORTS some provisions of Obamacare.  Oops.  I’m sure his opponents exploited that in all the ads I’ve been ignoring.  Sorry Chad, better luck next time.

Will Brooke

Ok, he is the “experienced conservative” (he was conservative while you were still crapping in diapers Paul and Chad!).  Ok, he’s ending Obamacare too, a businessman (jobs!), reign in federal spending (balancing the budget I’m sure), and he teaches Sunday School (no mention whether Christian values are under attack, but he does support “traditional values”.)  Hold on, hold on.  How do I know you aren’t pulling a Chad Mathis and are not secretly cool with at least parts of the Obamacare law?

OMG!!!  Ok, if you didn’t watch, he takes a copy of a bill and shoots with a pistol.  Still not convinced?  He then shoots with a rifle.  Yeah, but that’s not serious.  Alright, he shoots with a f’n semi-automatic assault rifle!!!!  But darn it, it’s still there.  Finally he throws in the whole darn thing into a wood chipper (I must admit, I am a little disappointed he didn’t somehow secure a tank.  I guess even Alabama has SOME limits).  He’s not only going to end Obamacare, he is going to kick its ass!

Scott Beason

Scott is “Alabama’s foremost conservative champion”  (You hear him, champion!  You conservative losers!)  He’s going to take on those hippie liberals in Washington, like Eric Cantor & John Boehner!!! (Wait, what???)  Oh here’s something different, he’s going to end Obamacare.  He’s going to create jobs, not because he’s a business man, but because he is getting rid of those filthy illegal immigrants (double conservative score!).  Balance the budget?  You betcha!  Christian values under attack?  You bet your bible they are!   The conservative is strong in this one.

Blah!!!  What freakin’ difference does it make?  That’s Alabama politics right now.  I just don’t have the will nor see the reason to bother.  I have no reason to think that any of these candidates can’t “represent me” being the most conservative conservative to have ever conservative.   They don’t really need my vote to do that.

June 4th Update:

So there’s going to be a run-off between Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer.  Hmm, didn’t mention Gary Palmer.  Let’s see:

Gary Palmer

Gary is “everything conservatives need” according to National Review.  Guess what?  He’s going to end Obamacare!  He is going to get rid of those darn regulations that prevent economic growth (jobs!).  Yes, he is going to balance the budget.  He probably does need to get a few more Christian mentions on his website, I can find only a reference to God in regards to being pro-life.  Whew!  I was worried there might be an actual difference in opinion.  Thank goodness that in a race of 8 hardcore conservatives, it is going to come down to 2 hardcore conservatives!  (Maybe the election will swing on whether or not Christian values are under attack?)

 

 

 

A study was just released found that climate change is not only going to happen, it is in fact HAS happened and is now ongoing.  The White House is trying to use this report to create a sense of urgency so maybe we start to take some sort of action.   But it’s not going to work.  You can have all the scientists and all the scientific studies in the world, but anything short of the world literally catching on fire is not going to spur any action (and even then, we may then only start to seriously discuss taking action, not take any actual action).

Meh.  Rain will probably put it out eventually.

Meh. Rain will probably put it out eventually.

The thing that got me thinking about this was bridges.  You may say, bridges?  What does that have to do with anything?  Well, this country just happens to have a bridge problem.  Nearly 25% of this country’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.  And 30% of this country’s bridges have exceeded their 50-year designed lifespan.  Heck, an interstate bridge in Minnesota just flat-out collapsed in 2007, which would seem to prove the point that our bridges need a little work.  Now I have never heard of a “bridge denier”, and I don’t think anybody really questions the numbers nor the situation.  And yet we have done little to improve the situation.  If we won’t do anything to fix something that is pretty much non-controversial, what chance does a cause that actually do have political activists fighting against it have?

What causes us to take action?  A truly sudden cataclysmic event, preferably televised, seems to do the trick.  But it has to be huge.  Or maybe just needs to happen a lot in a short period of time.  But a single bridge collapse was not enough to address our bridges.  A shooting of 20 second graders did nothing for gun control.  I often wonder what would have happened if the events of 9/11 wasn’t pretty much on live television.

The other thing that causes action is things that directly impact the influential in the here and now.  Unlike the huge cataclysmic events, if it affects the right people, these things can be nothing more than minor inconveniences.  When the government shutdown started delaying airline flights for people, including the media and politicians, it was amazing how a government who before couldn’t seem to agree on anything could suddenly come together and get THAT fixed!  The poor?  Hunger?  Health care?  Pfft, whatever.  But by golly I ain’t waiting for a plane!

But climate change, while will eventually have huge and devastating impacts, is not going to be sudden and will be hard to televise.  It’s going to be a slow burn.  And while it will not discriminate, it’s probably never going to have that ‘man, this is really effecting ME TODAY, we better do something!’ aspect to it.

Neil Tyson Degrasse recently said in reference to our inaction toward climate change, “The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming.  What’s our excuse?”  While what I offer are not excuses (or at least they are lousy ones), I just don’t see this going down any other way.  Prove me wrong, world.  Prove me wrong.

No Mr. Sterling.  That is actually a TERRIBLE disguise to wear to try to slip your way into the arena for game 7!

No Mr. Sterling. That is actually a TERRIBLE disguise to wear to try to slip your way into the arena for game 7!

This country has changed a lot.  We have a black President.  And as the bartender in Anchorman once said, ‘ladies can do stuff now’.  But it seems like we still have a few folks who tend to neither be black nor women who haven’t learned how to deal with that.  So I am here to help with just a few hints.

  • If you catch the words “Let me tell you one more thing about the Negro….” coming out of your mouth, just stop.  Please.  Take a moment.   Then make sure the next words out of your mouth are ‘um…nevermind.’  Otherwise you will go from being treated as a Fox News hero to being treated as a leper in about one nanosecond.  Right Cliven Bundy?
  • You can’t buy your way out of being a racist, even if you are rich enough to own a NBA team.  Throwing money at people is not the same as giving respect to people.  No matter how many awards the NAACP gives you (c’mon NAACP!).  But if nothing else, do not get caught on tape spewing hate speech if you are even marginally famous.  And especially do not tape it yourself.  I can not stress that enough!  TMZ will get it somehow!  In fact, just go ahead and assume anything recorded will end up on TMZ.  And think, would you like your mother hearing that?   Unless your mother is also an intolerant bigot.  In which case you will just have to imagine a tolerant non-bigoted mother.
  • As a legislator, tread carefully if you are going to go against any bill with “Equality” or “Equity” the title.  You see, these words tend to be associated with fairness and just.  So to take the opposite side of such a bill, you may feel compelled to say something that others may perceive as being unfair and unjust.  For example, when a New Hampshire lawmaker spoke out against a proposed Paycheck Equity Act, he felt compelled to say that women don’t work as many hours, just won’t do overtime, and really aren’t motivated by money anyway so that equal pay would be wasted on them.  For some reason, hard-working women perceived such a statement as being unfair and unjust.  Who knows why?  Darn this new world!

With these few simple steps, you just might, might, be able to hide your true ugly self from the rest of the world.   Nah.  We need to know who you people are.  The good news for “The Rest Of Us” is that you bigots are dummies incapable of hiding your true self forever.

So friendly!

So friendly!

Complete with the right to stand in the way of women health issues…er, I mean practice religious freedom.   And they have the right to free speech, but instead of vocal cords they use cold hard cash to do their talking.  Same thing.  So sayeth the Supreme Court it seems.  Really when you look at corporations, how could you say that they are anything else beside human beings?

  • The way they love one another.  Who can ever forget the day that Wendy’s and McDonald’s got married?  Yum! Brands kids Colonel Sanders, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and the gang in attendance, not a dry eye in the house.  Such a wonderful ceremony!
  • The compassion they have for the world. Such as when our good friend General Motors realized how much they hurt people with their ignition switches.  They nipped that in the bud only a decade later because that’s just how much General Motors cares!  Only a person could show that much compassion.
  • When one of them dies, the others weep.  When Bear Stearns passed away, the only thing the other banks could do is cry and cry.  So sadden were they.  You know, before one of them scooped up the carcass.  Don’t want to be deemed not big enough to fail after all.
  • The way that they smile.  I mean look at this guy….I know you can’t help but smile too!
Look at those dimples!

Look at those dimples!

  • And it makes total sense the corporations should have religious freedoms.  Who can forget that it was Noah Inc. who built the ark so life could survive the flood?  It’s all right there in the Bible.
  • The way they can talk.  Money is speech after all.  So corporations have a LOT to say!

So corporations are people.  Clear as day.  Or maybe not.  Look, I get that corporations do need some level of rights and privileges.  But I think those should be granted by legislative statues.  I do not believe those rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution.  When the Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and are endowed by inalienable rights by their Creator, I just don’t think the authors had organizational structures in mind.

40 Years

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Miscellaneous
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So I just recently turned 40 years old.  Now that I’ve got the ‘man I am old!’ out of my system, I thought it might be fun to reflect on how things have changed during my lifetime.

What was happening on the day I was born? – On the specific day, doesn’t look like much.  Um…the Brazilian President resigned?  Er….

What was happening in the year I was born?  -  Ah, that’s better.  A little thing called Watergate forced President Richard Nixon to resign.  Franklin Bank became insolvent (apparently this was before banks became “too big to fail”).  The 55 mph speed limit was introduced.  Daylight savings time was expanded to try to deal with the energy crisis.  Pocket calculators first started appearing in stores.  The top-selling toy was Play-Doh.  Top movies included The Godfather Part II, Blazing Saddles, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Top television shows included All In The Family, The Waltons, and Sanford and Son.  The Way We Were by Barbara Streisand was the top song (blech!).  Unemployment was around 5.5%  (but poised to go up very soon, to over 7% by the beginning of 1975).  Inflation was over 11%!

New Things I’ve Have Seen In My Lifetime -  High-definition television sets.  Several iterations of ways to record television for later viewing.  Personal computers.  The internet.  Phones that don’t need wires.  Phones for more than just phone calls.  Digital music.  Digital cameras.  Devices in your car that will tell you where you need to go…by talking to you!  Video game systems.  The explosion of cable television networks.  Twenty-four hour news networks (blech!).  Artificial hearts.  The use of DNA for crime solving.  Space shuttles.  GPS.  Wars (way too many).  An African-American elected President of the United States!  Twice!

Things I’ve Seen Go Away In My Lifetime (Or Come And Go) -  Vinyl records, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, typewriters, Atari, disco, hair metal bands, gasoline for under $1 per gallon, floppy discs, Commodore 64, “Weird Al” Yankovic making hit music, MTV playing music videos,  Jell-O pudding pops, Taco Bell Rancho Steak Burritos, Jolt Cola, NFL teams in Los Angeles, “New” Coke, The California Raisins, The Soviet Union, West and East Germany, Nelson Mandela.

Things I Hope To See In Next 40 Years – How about a woman as President already?  Much less conflict in the world.  Much less poverty.  Yeah, that would be good.  Oh, and teleportation.  Because that would be awesome!

Anything I missed?