Friday, June 28, 2013


I said on June 21:

"The most I believe we can hope for is the striking down of DOMA and allowing the lower court ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional stand on procedural grounds."

So we got what I thought was the most we could hope for. Cool.

I had to shake my head at Scalia. In his dissent, just one day after he voted with the majority to strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights act overwhelmingly endorsed by Congress in 2006, He had the gall to say the court had no right to strike down a law enacted by a democratically elected legislature.

He is the worst sort of hypocrite. The type that doesn't even care that he's a hypocrite.

In the meantime, religious right types are going absolutely crazy over this decision and I'm loving every minute of it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You Heard it First Here

On May 14, in a post entitled "The IRS Scandal II," I made the following statement>

"So why wouldn't the IRS take a really close look at groups whose names implied political partisanship?

I guess the big question here is what was the criteria for extra scrutiny and was that criteria biased?"

Now we're finding out that they were just keying off of politically sounding terms like "Tea Party",  "Progressive" and "Occupy." In other words, they were treating both right wing and left wing groups about the same way. THEY WERE SIMPLY DOING THEIR JOB!

They couldn't help it if there were more groups with "Tea Party" in their name than "Progressive. If Congress hadn't written such an obscure, whezzle worded statute, we wouldn't have this problem.

So there's no scandal but that won't keep the ring wing fruitcakes from howling at the moon over imagined slights (I would have said ring wing fruitcakes and Republicans but that would have been redundant).

Just like Benghazi, it's much ado about nothing. This country is in serious trouble when a significant portion of the population can't tell fact from fantasy or simply doesn't care.

Supreme Court Strkes Down Voting Rights Provision

The SCOTUS struck down the portion of the Voting Rights act that determined which states required approval from the Department of Justice before they could change voting laws.

Generally the restriction applied to states with a history of voter discrimination and mostly in the South (where else?).

Before we start jumping up and down and criticizing the court, let's remember that Congress, which last extended the act in 2006, hasn't updated the map determining which jurisdictions needed pre-clearance since 1972!

In theory, Congress could reinstate the law simply by updating the map. Given the current Congress, with a Republican House, I figure the chances are slim and none.

I can't wait to see the slew of new restrictive law coming out of precisely those states identified on the existing law (do you REALLY think things have changed?) and the slew of law suits in response.

Another great way to waste time and money.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Right is Completely Crazy

Just when you thought the right couldn't get any crazier, they prove you wrong.

They are going absolutely ape-shit over what the SCOTUS might say about Gay Marriage. Like I've said, I suspect the Roberts court is going to embarrass itself by not taking this historic opportunity to set things straight and will either punt the question or undo years of progress.

But the right wing types apparently aren't as sure about that. Either that or, more likely, they're using it as a way to wheedle dollars out of their under-80 IQ base that those people can't really afford to give.

Allow me to provide some examples from Right Wing Watch.

Speaking at a Frederick Douglass Society (a conservative black organization) event in Michigan, Gary Glenn of the American Family Association urged Christians and governors of states which have outlawed gay marriage to ignore any SCOTUS ruling that might strike down those laws.

Like I said, he needn't worry because that's not going to happen but can you imagine? About the only thing a governor would accomplish by ignoring a Supreme Court ruling would be to get an opportunity to meet the 101st Airborne up close and personal. President Eisenhower provided such an opportunity for Orval Faubus, the governor of Arkansas, in 1957 when Faubus resisted an integration order.

Of course one might question whether Obama would have the guts to take decisive action like Eisenhower took. I mean, let's face it, Obama is not a Dwight Eisenhower.

Even better, Glenn claimed the Republican Party was established for the express purpose of fighting slavery and defending marriage. I might give him the slavery point but "defending marriage?"

Finally Glenn draws upon Martin Luther King and his Letter from a Birmingham Jail claiming that somehow fighting AGAINST Gay Rights is equivalent to fighting FOR black rights.

The reference to MLK is sort of obligatory I suppose but how can these people not see the absurdity of such a statement?

Even further off the wall we have Liberty Council head Matt Staver, who is a Liberty University law school dean (it seriously scares the hell out of me that Liberty University has a law school), claiming that a SCOTUS decision favorable to same sex marriage could cause another civil war and would be "a catastrophic consequence for our religious freedom, for the very function of the family, for marriage, for our human existence, for civil society and for any area of our liberty."

Exactly how Staver came to this conclusion is something of a mystery other than the old right wing nonsense that somehow legalizing same sex marriage would require people, by law, to accept homosexuality and even possibly engage in homosexual acts.

For good measure Staver tossed in an "Obamacare is forcing us now to fund abortion" quote which is flat out not true. Do they know these things are not true or are they just incapable of differentiating fact from fantasy?

These people are bat-shit crazy but the Republican Party welcomes them with open arms. I will not vote Republican, and I cannot understand how anyone with an ounce of integrity can vote Republican, until the party cleans house.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Waiting for the SCOTUS

June is approaching its end. The latest prediction is that the SCOTUS will announce its rulings for both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases June 26 or 27.

Gay Rights groups still appear hopeful while the religious right appears to be preparing for bad news while still trying to influence the court.

The latest is a "Marriage Solidarity Statement," put together by Liberty Council, claiming that the SCOTUS has no authority to redefine marriage and vowing to resist any ruling in favor of equality. Last November Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said a legalization could lead to civil war.

One continues to wonder what planet these people live on?

First of all, the SCOTUS is not about to issue a blanket statement declaring Gay Marriage a constitutional right. With this court, we'll be lucky if we don't get saddled with a Dred Scott or Separate but Equal sort of decision that sets marriage equality back 10 years.

The most I believe we can hope for is the striking down of DOMA and allowing the lower court ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional stand on procedural grounds.

My fear is that the court will use procedural grounds to let DOMA stand and defer to the California Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 which would reinstate it as California law.

I just don't trust this court.

Monday, June 17, 2013

High Court Rejects Arizona Voter Law

An Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote has been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Proponents of the law claimed it reduced voter fraud. Opponents said it was a transparent attempt to discourage voting by legal immigrants and the court, by a rather shocking 7-2 margin, agreed.

Federal law requires you to swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that you are an American citizen and, apparently, the states cannot go significantly beyond that.

The Arizona law would have required naturalized citizens to have registered in person with their actual naturalization document since federal law prohibits copying it.

I'm not too worried about this one because "voter fraud" is a Conservative boogey man. There is absolutely no evidence that any significant fraud actually exists.

Arizona, and other states, still have the option of asking the federal government to add state specific instructions and if refused, can sue the federal government to take action.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Glenn Beck's Big News

Can you hear the pillars of power collapsing? Can you hear the crowds screaming in the streets?

Beck has unleashed his scoop!

You'll excuse me if I'm underwhelmed by it all.

Apparently the big news that was going to rock the nation and bring down the entire power structure is a "revolt" by 70 house Republicans against Immigration Reform.

The group, led by Representatives Louie Gohmert (Texas), Steve King (Iowa) and Michelle Bachmann (Minnesota), arguably the three most bat-shit crazy Republicans in the House (and that is saying a lot) are petitioning for a special Republican conference meeting on the bill.

According to the three stooges leading the revolt, the group is invoking the Hastert Rule, a political procedure wherein the House Speaker does not bring a bill to the floor for a vote unless a majority of the majority party supports it.

This is another way stalemate and lack of progress are enforced in Washington. The "rule." a political courtesy, prevents a bill from passing supported by the minority party and enough of the majority to get sufficient votes to pass.

The rule is not blindly followed but Democrats tend to make more exceptions than Republicans.

John Boehner, the current Republican speaker has ignored the rule four times this term when he felt that the good of the country took precedence over the bat-shit crazy ideas of the majority of his Republican colleagues.

On January 1, 2013 Boehner allowed a vote on the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" (also known as the "fiscal cliff bill") with only 85 out of 241 Republicans in favor. The bill passed with the support of 90% of Democrats (172 out of 191).

On January 15, 2013, the Speaker allowed a vote on aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy to take place without the support of a majority of Republicans. The bill passed with 241 votes, but only 49 of the Yea votes were from Republicans while 192 Democrats voted for the bill.

On February 28, 2013 Boehner brought the extension of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor for a vote. The bill received the Yea vote of only 87 Republicans while 199 Democrats voted for it.

Finally, on April 9, 2013, the "rule" was ignored a fourth time, on a bill about federal acquisition of historic sites. The bill was passed with more than two thirds of the House vote but without a majority of the Republican representatives.

Like I said, I don't really have a horse in the immigration reform race but I find so-called courtesy rules like the Hastert Rule distasteful.  They prevent things from getting done.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Immigration Reform

I don't really have a horse in this race so the issue is not very high up on my list of priorities.

I vaguely think I would like to see a path to citizenship for those folks that have been here a reasonable amount of time, say five to ten years, are gainfully employed and have no criminal record beyond simple traffic violations in the time they've been here.

I also think knowing English should be a pre-requisite as well as paying some sort of fine and renouncing any and all ties to their home countries. In other words, no dual citizenships.

I'd also like to see some way to limit the amount of money these people can send back to their home country to support whomever. I'm not sure how you do that, or if it's even legal, but I have a feeling there should be some rules about it.

Since the recession the illegal immigration issue appears to have subsided but that doesn't mean it couldn't become a problem again in the future. Along with immigration reform we need to shore up security along the border to insure we don't end up right back here again in thirty years.

Glenn Beck Ready to Rock the Nation

According to Beck, within the next 24 hours he will reveal a scandal that will rock this nation to its core and bring down the entire power structure.

Of course Glenn provides no hint of what this might be about nor even anything resembling a coherent definition of what he means by the entire power structure.

Sounds like fun. Can't wait to hear what he's got. Do you suppose I should withdraw all my funds, sell all my stocks and bonds and hide the proceeds in my mattress?

Watch this page for future developments.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A Special Election for NJ Senator

Ok, so Chris Christie isn't going to appoint someone to replace Frank Lautenberg or at least not for the full remaining term. He will be appointing someone until a special election.

Christie decided that special election will be held in October (October?) with a primary in August which is both sneaky and underhanded while at the same time being fair.

How can that be you ask? Well, on the positive side, we get an elected senator rather than an appointee. On the negative side it's going to cost a bundle of money to have two elections and a special primary in August.

Christie could have simply added the senate election to the November slate except for the fact that would probably bring out Democratic voters that have pretty much conceded the governor's race.

Do you see what I mean about Republicans? Even when they do something "right," it's wrong.

Monday, June 03, 2013

SCOTUS Says Ok to Take DNA

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld police taking DNA swabs after an arrest. The court called it the 21st Century version of fingerprints.

Antonin Scalia joined  justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in dissent.

The court did not consider a swab of the cheek a search.

Scalia, in his dissent, said “Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes. Then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane.”

When you consider the logic, it is similar to fingerprinting but you can hide your fingerprints. You can't hide your DNA.

What's next, you'll have to supply DNA in order to get a driver's license?

Somehow this gives me a cold shiver down my spine.

Frank Lautenberg Passes Away

Frank Lautenberg, the senior senator from my home state of New Jersey, passed away earlier today. At 89 he was the oldest serving member of the senate and the longest serving senator in New Jersey history.

Frank was a good man. I met him about five years ago on an Amtrak station in Newark. He and his aid were taking the train back to Washington and I was headed for an NSA meeting in Maryland.

He'll be missed.

Unfortunately Chris Christie gets to appoint his interim replacement. It should be interesting to see who Christie picks. Whoever it is will become the Republican front runner for running against Mayor Cory Booker in 2015.

Christie has a huge lead in the election for governor this year so this can only hurt him if he makes a bad choice.