August 4th, 2013
The best argument against politics is the results. Our values are reflected in our culture and in our politics. Those values lead to certain results. The following are lists that I think demonstrate the values and results of the politics of my state, Alabama, and other states with similar political cultures. All these lists come from wikipedia.org except where noted.
(image from wikimedia: poverty rate)
July 31st, 2013
I put together this little trip down memory lane mostly through articles that appeared on Reuters news services on various dates staring in March of 2011 and running through July 2013.
The midterm elections of 2010 saw a rise in the Tea party Movement and takeover of the House by Republicans. The United States was due to hit the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, which was perfect timing for an absurd showdown that put US credit in danger for the sake of extracting political concessions on spending.
June 30th, 2013
According to a witness at the Zimmerman trial, the victim referred to George Zimmerman as “a creepy ass cracker” moments before he was shot and killed.
Most of the attention regarding that statement has focused on the racial slur “cracker”. To me the more interesting word is “creepy”. This both describes Zimmerman's behavior and the victim's response to it.
Creepy: “Of or producing a sensation of uneasiness or fear, as of things crawling on one's skin”.
April 30th, 2013
So maybe they didn't break an actual record, but it was the fastest Congress has moved to accomplish anything since 2009. Last week, much to the amazement of budget chicken hawks, the sequester brought forth an actual consequence: flight delays.
The FAA, in order to stay within new budget guidelines brought about by a piece of intentionally stupid legislation (so stupid in fact that the whole point of it was to be as stupid as possible so that Congress would never allow it to be enacted), furloughed air traffic controllers causing inconvenience to people who apparently prefer deficits to inconvenience. Within days Congress passed legislation and the President signed it.
March 24th, 2013
Apparently someone cares, otherwise CNN Headline News (now know by the moniker HLN) would not have dedicated all of their air time to this one story.
Once upon a time Headline News cared about actual news. Then came the success of Nancy Grace. Since then it has been a steady march towards turning a channel dedicated to news into a channel dedicated to trash.
The trash was once quarantined to the evening hours but has now infested most of the afternoon. I've noticed that even Morning Express, the only program on HLN that I can stomach, heavily promotes the other 20 hours of trash laden programming.
Oh, but people watch! People would also watch if the anchors and reporters were all nude models. People would watch if HLN broadcast train wrecks on a continuous loop. People would watch if HLN focused solely on outrageous, hateful propaganda and the politics of character assassination. People would watch HLN in great numbers if all the air time was given over to Maury Povich or reality TV.
February 20th, 2013
Next week's national agenda includes panic and hand-wringing over sequestration, featuring non-stop coverage of all the horrors and calamities that await us on March 2. I need to go ahead and warn all of you that pundits will be pronouncing blame on various parties, so if that kind of thing makes you queasy you may want to keep your TV, radio, computer, record player, toaster oven, and smart phone in the quiet and tranquil off position.
I'm sure there are those who think that an artificial deadline for random and mindless budget cuts is just exactly how a civilized, modern nation should handle its affairs. And who knows, maybe that is the best we can expect from our Government nowadays.
December 27th, 2012
Watching Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell exchange verbal jabs with one another on the floor of the Senate today just reaffirmed for me how petty and dysfunctional Congress has become. In a few days, thanks to an absurd artificial deadline born of the above mentioned dysfunction, American citizens face tax increases and austerity.
Any bill put up for a vote in the House offering approximately what President Obama is asking for will pass, as most of the Democrats and enough Republicans will support it to overcome the no votes of most Republicans. However, the consequences of doing so could be that Boehner loses the speakership. Last week's embarrassing failure of Speaker Boehner's plan 'B' was a clear signal that a substantial number of Republicans are not going to vote yes on any 'balanced' approach.
December 21st, 2012
This week in a press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support for a measure passed by the Russian Parliament which would outlaw adoption of Russian children by U.S. parents.
The popularity of the bill in Russia is due to a few well publicized cases of child abuse and as retaliation for the Magnitsky bill that banned certain Russians from entering the United States.
The individuals targeted by the bill were believed to be involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who was arrested after making allegations of massive fraud in the Russian government and who subsequently died in police custody.
This situation reminds me of an old American proverb I recall from my youth: Russia sucks.
December 16th, 2012
On January 1st, taxes are going up on everyone. All Congress has to do to make this happen is what Congress does best: nothing.
The President has made it clear that as part of any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, tax rates must go up on upper income earners. Because of the approaching deadline, Speaker Boehner doesn't really have much of a hand to play. If taxes go up on everyone, Democrats will be able to play their favorite tune (you know, the one about Republicans representing the wealthy to the exclusion of everyone else) louder and prouder than ever before, and on a continuous loop for years to come. Furthermore, those automatic budget cuts will be cutting some stuff Republicans like. Whoever came up with such a ridiculous idea for this artificial deadline anyway?
Nevertheless, in order to get to a compromise and allow Republicans to save face, here is what I propose:
December 14th, 2012
I've always defended the right to bear arms. My defense has been along the lines that the constitution gives citizens the right to own a weapon. In the DC Handgun case, for example, I was in complete agreement with the majority opinion. The language of the second amendment is the language of the second amendment and the meaning is very clear.
After the killings today at a Connecticut Elementary School, I no longer think the issue should be the interpretation of the second amendment. Rather, the question we should be asking now is should citizens have a right to own a weapon.
(image credit wikimedia: memorial of Virginia Tech massacre victims)