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Wed Mar 04, 2015 at 09:50 AM PST

I think Kennedy misssed the point

by marking time

According to at least one source, Kennedy may be leaning toward upholding ACA.  Certainly that's good news, but I really dislike his reason.  From The Hil

Kennedy warned that a decision siding with the challengers could lead to the collapse of insurance markets by creating an ultimatum for the states: "Either you create your own exchange, or send your insurance market into a death spiral."

"There's a serious constitutional issue if we adopt your argument," Kennedy told the attorney for the plaintiffs, Michael Carvin.

So I'm happy that he sees the damage the case could cause - but he only seems to see the damage to "the insurance market" and not all the people that use that market.    He doesn't seem to care that m illions could lose coverage, only that the insurance industry couldn't function (and, presumably, continue to profit).

Sick.

Discuss

Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 05:48 AM PST

looking forward to 2016

by marking time

2016 scares me today.  Yesterday's election seems to demonstrate that all the worst republican strategies work just fine - so we'll see them again in spades for the next 2 years.

Destroy a state economy?  Didn't hurt much in KS

War on workers, and so bad that the GOP almost lost a recall?  Didn't hurt in WI

Lie about ACA and how it supports the state program?  Didn't hurt in KY

Avoid the press and refuse to talk to people?  Worked in IA

Refuse to adopt Medicare?  Worked almost everywhere

So all the worst republican strategies work.  And we'll see them again.

But what really scares me are the Governor's results.  With all the red states, I expect to see two big game changers for 2016 - more voter suppression and changes to the allocation of electoral votes.  This may well cost Democrats the white house in 2016 - no matter who the 2 candidates are.

There is no chance for federal election reform law, and no chance for judicial restraint.  It's up to the states, and they made huge gains yesterday.

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Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 06:45 AM PDT

What an uninspiring ballot

by marking time

So I voted today - not sure why.  Choices for Governor were Cuomo or Astorino.  There were 3 offices with no Democratic candidate.  

I really didn't want to complete & mail the ballot.

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Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 12:37 PM PDT

so now "both sides do it" again

by marking time

According to TheHill.com, Priebus: Billionaire climate activist trying to suppress GOP votes

What he really meant was

Priebus points to a September memo that Steyer's group, NextGen Climate, sent to its state affiliates that details a plan to "degrade Republican performance" by "dampening Republican enthusiasm levels."
Dampening enthusiasm levels just doesn't rank up there with voter ID laws, curtailing early voting, closing or changing polling places, changing polling hours, planning to show up with armed "observers" and all the other shit the GOP is doing.

He ought to be ashamed to put "dampening enthusiasm" in the same category - but he has no shame and knows some people will now say "they both do it".  And some media spokespeople will echo that, or give equal air time to both sides of voter suppression.

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There was a diary yesterday about how GOP policies kill.  That was echoed in a Bloomberg article today:  Death Roils Texas as State Leads U.S. in Road Fatalities

Some highlights:

While speeding and driver error played a role in many wrecks, the increasing fatalities in the Odessa region show the deadly consequences of insufficient transportation investment, said Ector County Judge Susan Redford, chairwoman of the Midland Odessa Transportation Organization board. Odessa illustrates the nation’s failure to fix its infrastructure: The quality of U.S. roadways is bad and getting worse, with the World Economic Forum ranking them 16th worldwide, down from eighth five years earlier.
Texas alone falls $4 billion short each year for what it needs to maintain the system it has because, as a state transportation committee noted, current funding levels are “unacceptable.”

“People are dying because of the infrastructure,” said Jami Owen, a Midland resident who pushed to get a local highway expanded after her spouse, Mark, perished in a 2009 head-on crash. “My husband died because of the infrastructure.”

The state, which has been run by Republican Governor Rick Perry for almost 14 years, has been reluctant to raise taxes.
How much clearer can this get?  Republican polices kill.  Governments, at least in the US, exist to promote the general welfare of the people.  That doesn't come free, and when it isn't funded it doesn't get done.  When it doesn't get done, people die.  To quote the TP's favorite document:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Maybe the GOP/TP should read their founding document, at least the 1st paragraph.  They should read it every day until they understand it.  Then read it again.  Then instead of "drowning the government in a bathtub" they might begin to insist that the government do the things it was created to do, including "promote the general welfare".
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It's going to be a long, long summer.

From Bloomberg

The Clayton, Missouri grand jury was empaneled in May, said Edward Magee, spokesman for prosecutor Bob McCulloch. He said that the process of presenting evidence will last until October.
Hardly makes any sense, does it?  How can they need another 6 weeks of testimony and/or deliberation just to lead up to an indictment?

And the governor has said publicly that "a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued" - but he won't remove McCulloch.

I second the earlier diary today calling for the DOJ to move forward with their own indictment - and the timing should be more like 6 days than 6 weeks from now.

Discuss

Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 12:56 PM PDT

Small bit of good court news

by marking time

Vacancies on the federal bench are down from 94 before the filibuster was reformed to 61 current vacancies.  58 federal judges have been confirmed in the past 8 months.

source

It doesn't fix SCOTUS, but it's a step in the right direction.

There are still 61 vacancies and only 29 nominees pending - so both Reid and Obama have more work to do.  They need to do it before the November elections, just in case .....

And we need to keep the Senate.

Discuss

Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank

According to Bloomberg, early withdrawals from 401(K) accounts is at a record high.  

The Internal Revenue Service collected $5.7 billion in 2011 from penalties, meaning that Americans took out about $57 billion from retirement funds before they were supposed to.

The median size of a 401(k) is $24,400 as of March 31, with people older than 55 having $65,300, according to Fidelity Investments. Those funds can disappear quickly in retirement, and the early withdrawals indicate that the coming retirement crisis could be even more acute than expected.

So, sure, the recession is over and consumer spending is trending back up.  Long term unemployment and loss of UI benefits really hasn't hurt the economy, has it?  Except, of course, that people still have to live and will use whatever money they may still have to do so.  And that game won't go on forever.

And the grand bargain to cut Social Security - sure, why not?  Responsible people have built up their 401(k) accounts - tax deferred, no less - so they can be accountable for their own financial futures.  Great deal!  Except, they haven't, and when they have, many need to cash in early.  A median IRA of $65,000 won't go very far.

I don't see anything good coming out of this.

Discuss

According to The Hill, The GOP has their plans in place for how to make use of their new Senate majority after the mid-terms - and it's ugly:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that if elected majority leader, he would give Republican committee chairmen more power to legislate.  
So much for respecting the minority and returning the Senate to "the world's best deliberative body"

Hatch, who is serving his last term, said tax reform and international trade would be two of his top priorities. But he claims he would not shy away from entitlement reform, including changes to Social Security.  “The Social Security disability fund goes bankrupt in 2016. That has to be fixed.

Grassley wants to ratchet up the panel’s oversight of the Obama administration. He said Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has done a good job of holding hearings, but he would like to see the committee members send more letters to the administration to dig up information.

McCain said he would use his power to investigate the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya

One of Shelby’s highest priorities is to reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make it more accountable to Congress.

Inhofe ... said his “No. 1” goal is to “end the war on fossil fuels.”

There's more - but those are the high - uh, low - points.  If the GOP takes the Senate, we can look forward to 2 years of even worse performance from Washington than we've ever seen before (no surprise there).  And, of course, not a single nomination approval, ever, for anything.

Discuss

Our church had a presentation on same sex marriage a few weeks ago - I was pleasantly surprised that the general tone was in favor of same sex marriage, not opposed as I expected it to be.  During the discussion, one person recommended Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality  by Jack Rogers.  Mr. Rogers is Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In this revised and expanded best seller, Rogers argues for equal rights in both the church and society for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people. He describes how he moved away from opposition to support, charts the church's history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups, argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture, debunks stereotypes about gays and lesbians, and explores texts used most frequently against homosexuals and gay ordination.

In this newly revised edition, he maps the recent progress of major U.S. denominations toward full equality for LGBT persons, adds a new chapter that examines how Scripture is best interpreted by Jesus' redemptive life and ministry, and updates his own efforts and experiences.

I found the book to be very good - easy to read, clear and to the point.  Among other things, it offers an interpretation of many of the biblical texts generally used to discriminate against LGBT people, and by using some generally accepted rules of biblical interpretation shows why they do not support discrimination against LGBT, or even identifiy homosexuality as "sin".  One item that really caught my attention is about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (from which, of course, comes the term "sodomy"):
The best available scholarship shows that these texts have nothing to do with homosexuality as such. ... the sins of the city are variously described as greed, injustice, inhospitality, excess wealth, indifference to the poor and general wickedness.
So if you are a Christian and want to avoid the judgement of Sodom, would you be better off as an LGBT person, or a Republican?

There are many more eye-openers in the book, including how to interpret scripture generally, how to interpret the texts usually cited to justify discrimination, the history of the church in civil rights and women's rights.  The overall theme is that proper interpretation of the Bible requires a Christ-centered view of the whole Bible rather than using proof-texts out of context, and that when read this way, the Bible clearly requires acceptance of, and love for, all people.  The church has (mostly) reached that point (after years of error) with blacks, women, divorced people and mixed marriages - and needs to get there with LGBT people as well.

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Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:26 AM PST

Judicial Vacancies

by marking time

Lest we forget - the efforts to fill the federal bench didn't end when the filibuster ended.

According to USCourts.gov there are currently 96 vacancies with 59 nominees pending.

President Obama - where are the other 37 nominees?

Senators Reid and Leahy - why are there still 59 pending nominations?

This backlog needs to be cleared - and it needs to be cleared before the November elections.

Discuss

Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:41 AM PST

GOP Immigration policy explained

by marking time

Yesterday in church, one of the readings was from Exodus:

Exodus 1:8-14
New International Version (NIV)
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

It wasn't an immigration sermon (although the pastor reminded us that the Jews were immigrants in Egypt).  However, the first thought that came to my mind when I heard the passage was how familiar it sounded.

Now I understand the biblical underpinnings of the GOP policy - from the Old Testament, and from the wrong role models.

And the real biblical policy direction:

Exodus 22:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
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