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In A Small Step Toward More Mercy, The New York Times Editorial Board comes to the same conclusion that I did:

It is important to recognize that while Mr. Obama showed mercy to these eight people, his administration has been the least merciful in modern times. The power to mitigate an overly harsh sentence is squarely in his hands, and yet in nearly five years he has commuted just nine sentences and issued 52 pardons. (A commutation lessens the severity of a punishment, while a pardon forgives the offense itself and restores the rights people lose when they go to prison.)

There is no excuse for this lack of compassion. The risk to public safety is often used to justify denials of clemency, but a preliminary report issued in July by the United States Sentencing Commission found that the recidivism rates for the more than 7,300 prisoners who received sentence reductions under the Fair Sentencing Act were similar to those for inmates who served full sentences.

There is now fairly widespread agreement that federal drug laws are far too harsh and inflexible, and that their burden falls most heavily upon the poor and racial minorities. Given so many cases of injustice, why was Mr. Obama able to identify only a handful of people worthy of clemency? Part of the fault lies with the pardon office, which has been ineffective in doing its job in processing clemency requests. Last week’s commutations were the result of a request Mr. Obama made a year ago to have the Justice Department review pending clemency petitions. Clemency, however, is not the solution to all of the irrationality and harshness of America’s sentencing laws.

Mr. Obama did not create the broken criminal justice system, but he can do much more to lessen its impact on those who have been most unfairly punished by it.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times knocks Bitcoins and gold bugs and anti-Keynesian resistance in Bits and Barbarism:
Back in 1936 the economist John Maynard Keynes argued that increased government spending was needed to restore full employment. But then, as now, there was strong political resistance to any such proposal. So Keynes whimsically suggested an alternative: have the government bury bottles full of cash in disused coal mines, and let the private sector spend its own money to dig the cash back up. It would be better, he agreed, to have the government build roads, ports and other useful things — but even perfectly useless spending would give the economy a much-needed boost.

Clever stuff—but Keynes wasn’t finished. He went on to point out that the real-life activity of gold mining was a lot like his thought experiment. Gold miners were, after all, going to great lengths to dig cash out of the ground, even though unlimited amounts of cash could be created at essentially no cost with the printing press. And no sooner was gold dug up than much of it was buried again, in places like the gold vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where hundreds of thousands of gold bars sit, doing nothing in particular.

Michelle Chen at In These Times offers some Advice for Young Women—Get a Union Job:
Back in the days before modern feminism, a young woman looking for work might typically be advised, politely, to “learn a trade,” with the implication that she wasn't bound for college or an elite career, but a humbler job as, say, a secretary or seamstress. Such a phrase might sound condescending today. Yet working in a trade might still be sound career goal for a woman, if she gets the right kind of job—in a union.

According to a new paper on women and unionization by progressive think tank the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), "Even after controlling for factors such as age, race, industry, educational attainment and state of residence, the data show a substantial boost in pay and benefits for female workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts. The effect is particularly strong for women with lower levels of formal education."

In other words, all other things being equal, unions are good for working women, yielding higher wages and better job benefits. Specifically, “unionized women workers on average make 12.9 percent more than their non-union counterparts, are 36.8 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4 percent more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.”

You will find additional excerpts from pundits below the fold.

Rick Perlstein at The Nation asks Why Is ‘The New Republic’ Taking Money From an NSA Contractor to Run Defenses of the NSA?

The National Security Agency has a friend at the Harvard Law School. And at the Brookings Institution. And at The New Republic. And at the Washington Post.

Benjamin Wittes, who is not a lawyer, is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, where he is “Research Director in Public Law, and Co-Director of the Harvard Law School-Brookings Project on Law and Security.” He also has a Web site, Lawfare, where he’s been blogging on the report on the abuses of the National Security Agency just out from the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, in terms highly favorable to the super-secretive and media-shy agency. He also enjoys extraordinary access to the NSA, for instance in this series of podcasts with its top officials. (“We Brought In a Recoding Device So You Don’t Have To,” the series is titled—cute!)

Why is Lawfare the NSA’s media portal of choice? Well, consider this. Lawfare, in turn, partners with The New Republic, where this post was republished in its entirety. The joint Lawfare/TNR project is titled “Security States,” and it is sponsored, Wittes proudly notes, by the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Grumman, in turn, is a major NSA contractor—see this $220 million deal it scored with the NSA “to develop an advanced information management and data storage system that will support efforts to modernize the nation’s electronic intelligence and broader signals intelligence capabilities,” a fact TNR does not disclose to its readers.

Amitabh Pal at The Progressive explained why Bachmann's Middle East Meddling Tour Was Not Funny:
So Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Steve King go to the Middle East…. Sounds like the opening line of a joke. Unfortunately, their recent venture to the region is no laughing matter.

The three-member congressional delegation (no other colleagues wanted their company?) dropped by Lebanon, Egypt, and Libya, and showed their true colors at each stop.

In Lebanon, they met with Samir Geagea, a militia head who was implicated in some vile stuff during Lebanon’s civil war.

Geagea was “a hard-line Lebanese Christian militia leader back in the nasty old days when those militias were slaughtering one another and assassinating rival leaders,” writes The Washington Post. “Geagea had been linked in the media to a number of civil-war-era killings, including those of a pro-Syrian prime minister and a prominent Christian politician.”

Will Oremus at Slate writes California Is Giving Tesla Another Huge Tax Break. Good Move:
This is going to drive the Tesla-haters crazy. The luxury electric-car maker is getting a huge new tax break from California, SFGate reports. The state will let it off the hook for sales and use taxes on some $415 million in new equipment it’s purchasing in order to expand production of the Model S at its Bay Area factory. That amounts to a $34.7 million tax break to produce more of a vehicle whose sticker price starts above $70,000.

Tax breaks for the rich! Corporate giveaways! The working people forced to pay for tech titans’ fancy rides! [...]

I'd say there are worse ways for a state to spend a few tens of millions. But if you're still convinced that tax breaks to big manufacturers are unfair and wrong, you might want to train your ire on a state a little further north, which just offered an all-time record $8.7 billion in tax breaks to a company that manufactures perhaps the least-green transportation technology of all. The worst part: Boeing might just move out anyway.

From his perspective as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, Jonathan Turley at the Washington Post argues in The ‘Sister Wives’ lawsuit and the end of morality laws that it's a good thing a Utah law criminalizing polygamy was struck down:
The decision this month by a federal court striking down the criminalization of polygamy in Utah was met with a mix of rejoicing and rage. What was an emancipating decision for thousands of plural families was denounced as the final descent into a moral abyss by others. [...]

It’s true that the Utah ruling is one of the latest examples of a national trend away from laws that impose a moral code. There is a difference, however, between the demise of morality laws and the demise of morality. This distinction appears to escape social conservatives nostalgic for a time when the government dictated whom you could live with or sleep with. But the rejection of moral codes is no more a rejection of morality than the rejection of speech codes is a rejection of free speech. Our morality laws are falling, and we are a better nation for it.

Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times labels his 2014 forecast for D.C. Still stormy:
It would be nice to think that Congress' easy passage of a bipartisan compromise on the federal budget this month was the sign of a new spirit of cooperation on Capitol Hill. But in the hallways of the Senate last week, there was little evidence of bipartisanship, or even Christmas cheer.

"We need a cooling-off period," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told me. "I've raised two boys. Sometimes you need to go to separate rooms to cool down."

Indeed, next year is unlikely to get better, for one simple reason: It's a congressional election year. And not an ordinary election year. A significant number of Republican incumbents in both the House and Senate will face primary challenges from tea party conservatives.

James S. Henry at The New Republic explains Why I Hate Christmas—The Grinch has it right:
When I was a kid in Minnesota my family had a huge Scandinavian feast every Christmas Eve, complete with two dozen relatives, three feet of snow, a mountainous evergreen trimmed to the top, a six-course dinner with lutefisk and turkey and eight or ten pies, long-winded after-dinner stories about baseball and World War II, and, of course, lots of brightly wrapped presents. It has taken me three decades of rigorous economics training and life on the East Coast to shake off the warm nostalgia of those holidays. But I am now willing to say out loud what I suspect many Americans are muttering all across the country at this time of year: Christmas has become a net loss as a socioeconomic institution.
Chris Hedges at TruthDig says Food Behind Bars Isn’t Fit for Your Dog:
Aramark, whose website says it provides 1 million meals a day to prisoners, does what corporations are doing throughout the society: It lavishes campaign donations on pliable politicians, who in turn hand out state and federal contracts to political contributors, as well as write laws and regulations to benefit their corporate sponsors at the expense of the poor. Aramark fires unionized workers inside prisons and jails and replaces them with underpaid, nonunionized employees. And it makes sure the food is low enough in both quality and portion to produce huge profits.

Aramark, often contracted to provide food to prisoners at about a dollar a meal, is one of numerous corporations, from phone companies to construction firms, that have found our grotesque system of mass incarceration to be very profitable. [...]

Crystal Jordan, who has spent 23 years as a corrections officer in New Jersey and who works at the Burlington County Jail, and another corrections officer at the jail, who did not want to be named, told me that the food doled out to prisoners by Aramark is not only substandard but often spoiled. For nearly a decade Jordan has filed complaints about the conditions in the jail, including persistent mold on walls and elsewhere, with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and county officials. The results of her complaints have been negligible.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The James Henry "Grinch" article (6+ / 0-)

    makes some wild assumptions seems to me.  I'd like to see some reference to data to back up some of his claims:

    ~  Moreover, the number of people rendered "joyous" by Christmas is probably equaled or excelled by the number made to feel rather blue. [are there statistics that bear this out?]

    ~  Just as important is the amount that Americans spend on gratuitous gifts each year—$40 billion to $50 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's monthly retail trade sales. [does he consider giving children and grandchildren gifts to be gratuitous?]

    ~  [children's toys and video games] and expensive gadgets that do not work or hold interest for more than a day.  [really?  all those toys don't work once unwrapped?  all those gadgets sit unused in closets?]

    Although I can agree with a few of his points, too many others don't pass the smell test.  Sounds like he is looking to justify his pleasure at being a Grinch.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 04:58:09 AM PST

    •  For years now I've been looking forward... (5+ / 0-) December 26.

      Just sayin'.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 06:35:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Holidays make me Grinchy. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The over-commercialization, the overhype, and the forced joy and happiness.

        Plus not being treated quite right in school back then and being old and lonely now isn't helping much....

        "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

        by Stude Dude on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 08:10:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Over hyped for sure, Dude (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Stude Dude

          I'm sorry about all those bad memories from your school years.  I know how much they continue to haunt you.  Will you travel to your Mom's house for Xmas or does work prohibit it?

          Any new drawings you can share?  I've missed seeing them.

          As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

          by JaxDem on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 08:26:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I got today off. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            So I'm printing out and wrapping up some presents. I hope to drive up to The Farm tomorrow if it isn't snowing too much.

            I'm trying to overcome inertia (and Holiday distractions) and get my webcomic going again. I did just finish coloring seven pages across two comics for Pat Pat Moriarity. They're supposed to pop up at BoingBoing in the near future. I also have two pages published in a small press thing called "Mixtape" edited by Brendan Lehmann. But, yes, I should be drawing more.

            I did do a though experiment about reviving some juvenilia strips and fixing the juvenile qualities of them. I may wrap them up, plus one newer idea, as little franchises and give them as intellectual property to the Nieces to huck or not.

            Sometimes I get frustrated with the lack of commercial recognition for InterStellar OverDrive and Sci Fi Guy! that I'm tempted to walk away and play more with the cars and 3D printing.

            Anyway, peak at my contribution to Mixtape:

            Venus and Mars WIP by ~melallensink on deviantART
            I hope that future is 1975 enough....

            And there's always family....

            But Mother redraw with base color by ~melallensink on deviantART
            I recently realized that there are two sets of family here. Winnie and Didi are sisters. Revellia and Celandine are half-sisters with Flexia being Mama.

            "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

            by Stude Dude on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:34:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  If you include the cost of mass-produced gift (8+ / 0-)

      baskets businesses send each other, the tschotskes for teachers, hairdressers, receptionists, etc., and all the gifts that people buy from a sense of obligation rather than joy, it probably does counterbalance the gifts to the grandkids.  

      My family stopped exchanging gifts years ago, excepting my nephews.  My husband's family kept at it, despite there being no grandkids and all of us being over fifty - mostly because my sister-in-law just loves to shop, so the rest of us had to go along with it.  This year, my mother-in-law put her foot down and said no gifts.  Hubby said how about just one? and she went along with that.  That's always been my way - one really nice gift that the person really wants or can truly use.  SiL has long gone for quantity - the fun of opening many packages, but most of it being silly little stuff that you will never use.  I hate to think of the waste of money and resources involved, to say nothing of the hellhole factories where they're probably made.  It's a "tradition" that I'm happy to end.

      Lead your life - don't let your life lead you.

      by lineatus on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 06:53:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good for your m-i-l (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, lineatus, Stude Dude

        many families limit the gift giving in suitable ways that, mostly, suit everyone.

        As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

        by JaxDem on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:26:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Reminds me of the Skow Christmases (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Of the '80s when the old Grandkids had Great Grandkids and tired to upstage each other with buying presents in the Smurf and He-Man era. Too many people with too much stuff, making too much commotion in that little house.

          "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

          by Stude Dude on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:42:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Try to stay practical (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for immediate family gifts - even 2 year old gets clothes (okay, and a Sit-N-Spin, because it's the best toy ever made) gift cards for things they need.  

        My sister and I make donations in each others name because we have more stuff than we need and don't want or need more.

        And keep to a budget.  When I was younger I was always amazed at how much some people spent, I was too broke so i never developed the habit.

    •  Anecdotes, for sure, but here are three (5+ / 0-)

      personal stories that back him up.

      1)  I have a friend who for many years worked at a major city's landfill.  He said the amount of unopened, in-the-box gifts that ended up in the landfill the week after Christmas was simply staggering.

      2)  Parents of 4 young children were killed in an auto crash at Christmastime.  Our local newspaper published an article that begged for donations to help bury them because they died with no money and lots of debt.  The story went on to laud this couple as fantastic parents because they had spent all they had on Christmas gifts for their children.  That's not laudable.  It's irresponsible parenthood.  That people increase their debt for Christmas giving is well established.

      3)  A friend has a Christmas day gathering each year because it is such a difficult and joyless season for her.  It is very well attended, mostly by friends who likewise have holiday issues--family conflicts, lack of family, loss of loved ones, etc.  That holidays can trigger sad feelings has been written about widely, and I believe there are studies to back it up.

      •  As I stated, there are some points (0+ / 0-)

        in the article to which I agree and running up credit card debt is one of them.  However, he went on to say that the credit card debt from Xmas alone was the cause for lower numbers of people saving $$.  I would argue that raising the onerous wages would go a long way towards lowering personal debt and allowing for some measure of savings.  (We have to also consider family members who financially assist those lowest wage earners thus lowering their ability to save).  I do agree it is not responsible to run up debt for Xmas, but those self same folks don't mind buying newer and better cars, etc rather than taking care to extend the life of the one(s) they own, thus creating more irresponsible debt.  Point being that "those" folks will be fiscally irresponsible regardless of Xmas.

        Good idea of your friend to host an annual get together for others who aren't otherwise celebrating with others.Even those of us who rather enjoy the season have sadness associated during this time as well and to the comment from Egaitare above, I too look forward to the 26th and getting it all behind me.  Perhaps for different reasons though.  All in all, show me the statistics that say the people worldwide that are depressed during the season exceed those who are not.  In fact, I found this article that debunks the theory that the holiday itself causes more depression and suicides - True or False: Depression and Suicide Rates Rise During the Holiday Season (article published by NYU Langone Medical Center this year).

        I have no experience on people throwing away unopened gifts that end up in landfills and am sure that it happens for a variety of reasons (I'm old enough to put something in the trash that I intended to put in the refrigerator), but I honestly find it hard to swallow that the numbers would be staggering.  Too many folks are willing to donate their unwanted gifts to charities or re-gift them for something like that to happen.

        As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

        by JaxDem on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:51:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I thought the intro said it was from 1990 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude

      I feel like the Christmas junk has exploded since then.

      "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

      by voracious on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:41:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If only somebody actually read New Republic. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lineatus, Aunt Pat

    If the NSA's wasting time and money getting puff pieces in the New Republic, then I'll be angry at them too.

  •  Thematic *BREAKING* news this morning: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, thomask, JanetT in MD

    Pussy Riot Members Released From Prison

    KRASNOYARSK, Russia (AP) -- The third member of the Russian punk bank Pussy Riot has been released from custody following an amnesty law passed by parliament.

    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova left the prison colony in the eastern Siberian city Krasnoyarsk on Monday, hours after another band member, Maria Alekhina, was released in another region.

    The amnesty that enabled their release is seen as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

    Righteousness is a wide path. Self-righteousness is a bullhorn and a blindfold.

    by Murphoney on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:21:53 AM PST

  •  Can't complain about the Tesla tax break.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, Aunt Pat

    ....since I think tax breaks can be good tools for the right reasons.

    But don't come crying to me about corporations paying too little in taxes.

    •  Corporations aren't paying anything like a fair... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, SouthernLeveller

      ....share of the tax burden in this country, especially considering the most profitable corpse in the world, the oil companies, are given tax credits that cost billions....

      The fact that the govt tries to use taxation as a method of encouraging manufacturing doesn't alter that fact one bit.

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:40:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, a buck a meal isn't going to buy much. (4+ / 0-)

    Wonder if Aramark offered higher cost options?

    They do serve meals in places where customers can complain -- schools, businesses, sporting events, hospitals -- so I'm sure they have higher quality products.

  •   There is no excuse for this lack of compassion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Stude Dude

    that "his administration has been the least merciful in modern times" .....

    It is important to recognize that while Mr. Obama showed mercy to these eight people, his administration has been the least merciful in modern times.

    The power to mitigate an overly harsh sentence is squarely in his hands, and yet in nearly five years he has commuted just nine sentences and issued 52 pardons.


    Mr. Obama did not create the broken criminal justice system, but he can do much more to lessen its impact on those who have been most unfairly punished by it.

    For our fallen solders who come home from Afghanistan in a coffin to Dover, "God bless the cause for which they died."

    by allenjo on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:35:22 AM PST

  •  Krugman's getting some nutty comments. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, FindingMyVoice

    Gold Bugs and Bitcoin Beetles are up in arms.

    Fun reading.

  •  Hmmm, am I the only one (7+ / 0-)

    who has the wedding story posted at 8:00 p.m. Sunday at the top of the FP?  I found this Abbreviated Pundits through the most twittered section.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:51:46 AM PST

  •  I recommend young women AND men (7+ / 0-)

    go for a trade.  Several young people have come to me for advice recently (nieces and nephews) and I told them the same thing: go to trades school, get certified, join a union.  If you want to further your education academically after that, go for it.  But a trade is going to serve you well in life.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:59:08 AM PST

  •  That piece about TNR, NSA and lawfare is.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, Aunt Pat

    Yet another unsettling, grotesque revelation.
    I wonder who else is on the payroll?

  •  'Duck Dynasty,’ meet Pope Francis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pelagicray, Aunt Pat, Stude Dude

    is the title of this Washington Post op ed by E. J. Dionne

    I think it is worth reading, regardless of your own orientation on matters of faith and belief.

    I use three paragraphs from the piece as a starting point in this similarly named post in which I explore a number of ideas, and to which I invite your attention.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 06:41:58 AM PST

    •  Good question in that piece: (0+ / 0-)
      If any given religion and its holy writings can be used to support diametrically opposed conclusions about how to live life and how to approach politics, why should religious faith be taken seriously?
      The answer is a lot more complex that most would give on the instant. A hint to the more complex answer lies in the difference between approaches of the duck guy and the Vatican guy.

      As for the defrocked Methodist minister mentioned in that piece, there is another hint in the church that defrocked him and Foundry United Methodist Church that welcomed him.

      I personally reject the "athiest" title only because I cannot prove there is no supernatural being somewhere behind the veil of time and all the bubble universes and big bangs or what not that our science is working to unravel and do not think any being ever could so prove. As in the old joke, applied, because we will almost certainly be forever ignorant on the facts of the matter I am completely indifferent to the question of such a thing. I do sometimes see the faiths as expressed by such as the current Pope and people such as might be found at Foundry (link to Foundry's site with his sermon) worth not dismissing even while I see their attribution to some supernatural being as needless and puzzling.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:52:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The one problem I have with polygamy is that (0+ / 0-)

    ultimately there will be pimps who claim to be "married" to their workers.
    The problem with this is that it will result in abuse being considered as "domestic violence" and law enforcement will be reticent to be involved.

    This will be the case until and unless there is an equal rights amendment and federal enforcement, or until there is finally enough legislative action to produce adequate statues to protect women.
    Which of course could take decades.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 06:46:21 AM PST

    •  The problem I have with polygamy is that it gives (6+ / 0-)

      men an exaggerated idea of their own importance and appears to place women in an inferior status.

      I'd have NO problem with it if polyandry were widespread. It would equalize such arrangements if there were households in which one woman had several husbands. The husbands in such households might get the idea that women are important.

      Tell me, is it an implicit compliment that there is, or was, a TV show called "Wife Swap"? Why wasn't there one called "Husband Swap"?

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:43:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And as usually practiced worldwide involves older (4+ / 0-)

        males and far younger females with considerable power overtones. In fact, where it is perfectly legal the larger flock of wives is most often seen culturally as a male power and importance statement.

        At the same time government and legal messing about with people's personal and purely voluntary living arrangements is something that should be kept to an absolute minimum except where there are clear cut public interests—such as no child bride harems anywhere. What is particularly abhorrent in our system is the enforcement of the state of religious preferences.

        I personally see the whole "gay marriage" thing as being hostage to a downright weird and barbed hook. Both sides of that issue are hung up on something that in no case should be an issue in this country. Religions are free to define whatever "blessing" they want to convey while the legal status of a relationship are purely state and contractual in nature. As in other countries, even "Catholic" ones there are often separate religious and state formalities. We should require the same. One may or may not have a religious ceremony, but to get the legal tax and other benefits one shall show up and get the correct state documents—and the two shall never be conflated in ceremony or concept.

        So, in a sane society, no minister, priest, rabbi, shaman or any other "spiritual" entity would have any legal function in such unions. Instead of fighting for "gay marriage" a less loaded campaign might be to fight on constitutional grounds the granting of state authority to religious entities with that respect. That certainly appears to me to be a state establishment and recognition of religious authority. Make everyone, regardless of faith, show up at the courthouse registry for a purely state function for state benefits. Just got a "church wedding"? Ok, "living together" with the same legal rights as the otherwise unattached.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 08:19:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, in the past, the church did work in the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          community as an "institution" that helped glue the community together.
          But our society has changed faster than we can keep up with it and reform our institutions to more perfectly fit with the new condition.
          So I'd call it growing pains.
          I agree that I don't think "marriage" is such a great goal, seeing as how only about 50% of them succeed.
          I also agree about the separation of church and state.
          It's actually been very good for the Christian religion. If it were more perfect it would be better.
          Stick to the spiritual growth and community, and quit getting sheep-herded into fighting culture wars, I would tell Christians...for your own good and the good of your church.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:28:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't have a problem with older men and younger (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Stude Dude, pelagicray, Diana in NoVa

          women, to a point. I agree about questionable power dynamics.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:29:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even in the power thing in some cultures it was (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            also something of a protective thing as well and had lots to do with family, tribal and clan structure.

            Even in our "olden" times in the U.S. there are some interesting cases. Why did that teen girl marry that old uncle? Ah, he was otherwise "without issue" and "doing poorly" died months later and the farm stayed safely in the local family.

            Marriage has always been deeply involved in property issues, including women as property themselves. In modern life those issues are best left to the state alone and another reason to completely separate religious bodies from the essentially contracting issues of property and economics. As above, the separation is better for the religion itself as it keeps it out of the "crass" commercial aspects. Let it stay in the cultural celebration role and no where else.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:25:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  LOL, David54! My husband is almost 14 years (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            older than I. I've always preferred older men. They're like good, mellow red wine.

            "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

            by Diana in NoVa on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 01:09:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  What's good for the goose is good for the gander. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude

        I think 'wife swap' was one of the lowest of the low points in the history of television. I never watched it, but I did see bits or the promos as I was surfing.

        In reality, though, the interchange of the wife would have major ramifications in most families, while the exchange of the man would not be s uch a big  deal in most households.
        Most women hold most of the responsibility and do most of the work.
        There are exceptions, though.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:21:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You take what you can get (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, SouthernLeveller

    "In Lebanon, they met with Samir Geagea, a militia head who was implicated in some vile stuff during Lebanon’s civil war."

    I guess Nathan Bedford Forrest wasn't available.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:12:23 AM PST

  •  I think we call this the MIC: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Stude Dude
    So Keynes whimsically suggested an alternative: have the government bury bottles full of cash in disused coal mines, and let the private sector spend its own money to dig the cash back up.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:26:53 AM PST

  •  A couple of other interesting pieces: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude

    Republicans could face serious backlash over unemployment benefit expiration:

    Congressional Republicans returned home for the holidays with empty stockings for constituents who are suffering with long-term unemployment, after the GOP repeatedly blocked renewal of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation fund. Now a new poll shows their stinginess could create a significant backlash at the polls next year — including from some Republican voters.
    ending with
    That’s exactly the message progressives will be hammering over the holiday break, especially when benefits for the long-term unemployed stop three days after Christmas. “It’s not just in America’s economic interest to extend [unemployment] benefits, [but] these polls show it’s in swing-district Republicans’ own political interest to support the jobless in their districts,” said Jeremy Funk of Americans United for Change. “Otherwise they just might join their ranks.”
    Then there is Jennifer Rubin's An open letter to the Virginia Republican Party that brought a grin and a video of one of the current TP/GOP darlings running to fill Frank Wolf's now vacating seat with the comment:
    Interestingly, one of the aspirants for Wolf’s seat who’d probably thrill the 8,000 wound up in a wee bit of trouble this week. State Del. Dick Black apparently believes marital rape doesn’t exist:
    Time to really begin sharpening those stakes on which to impale these idiots in the 2014 campaign that is essentially now.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 08:37:28 AM PST

  •  Unions... (0+ / 0-)

    Unions are good for working men too... Not just working women...

    In fact they're good for just about everyone... which is why the workers hate them so much today...

    They even benefit the bosses - trickle up economics. A worker with more money buys more loot.

    But bosses get impatient about waiting for that money to trickle up, so they're anti-union.

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 11:29:28 AM PST

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