Right to Bear Arms

May 27, 2014

A silly visual pun, but is it any more silly than the tortured “originalist” intepretations of the US Constitution by the likes of Justice Scalia when it comes to the right to “bear arms?”  Joe Nocera points out today in his column, that new scholarship makes clear, if it ever was not clear, that The Framers meant for citizens to have the right to form armed militias – they didn’t have, and didn’t want a standing army in those days. Now, we have quite an army; an entire military-industrial complex.  The one that the army guy, Eisenhower, warned us about.

Is Scalia listening? It really has nothing to do with hunters, homicidal maniacs, criminals, and other gun lovers, that many today feel should be regulated.

The justice likes to claim that he bases his opinions only on what The Framers said, or what they “meant,” but of course, he decides what they meant.  And his originalism is remarkably flexible, always hewing to the latest right-wing conservative line.

Now, none of this is too surprising, but what did bring me up a bit short was Nocera’s comment that this position by the Republican establishment is relatively recent, c. 1980.  It coincides with the Reagonzo Revolution, the ascendance within the Republican party of the angry, somewhat bigoted men, white men.  Thanks again, Ronnie.

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Boehner: Le roi fainéant

March 1, 2013

From the New York Times today:

Among those who placed him in his post and could conceivably remove him, the test of his leadership seems to be how little action he takes. In a closed-door meeting and subsequent news conference this week, Mr. Boehner said the House was done negotiating over spending cuts until the Senate “begins to do something.”

From Wikipedia:

Roi fainéant, literally “do-nothing king” and so presumptively “lazy king“, is a French term primarily used to refer to the later kings of the Merovingian dynasty, after they seemed to have lost their initial energy. They were considered and portrayed “useless” by Carolingian kings and even early modern historians, though current historical opinion is more nuanced.


Nattering Nabobs of Non Sequitur

January 28, 2013

cropped-nixon53
Is it just me, or am I right in thinking that the Republican Right has reached new heights, plumbed new depths of pure illogic and nonsense?  I am thinking of two statements from two articles in today’s NYTimes that were on the same page of the printed version. Firstwe have the whiz-kid Paul Ryan shouting about how Obama wants to effect the “political conquest” of the Republican Party.  Well, here’s hoping!  Anyway, the article  goes on to say this:

On Sunday, in a stinging rebuke to Mr. Obama, he said that had Hillary Rodham Clinton beat him to win the Democratic nomination in 2008 and gone on to win the presidency, “we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now.”

“I don’t think that the president thinks that we actually have a fiscal crisis,” he said. “He’s been reportedly saying to our leaders that we don’t have a spending problem, we have a health care problem. That just leads me to conclude that he actually thinks we just need more government-run health care.”

Is Ryan speaking well of the same Hillary Clinton who made government controlled health care, single-payer at that, her top priority during her hubby’s first term?  And who was demonized by the Republicans for it?  Does he think she doesn’t think we have a major health care problem?  Or is he convinced that she would have dealt with our financial crisis better because of what she learned at the side of her similarly vilified husband, who happens to have run the only budget surplus this country has seen in recent history.  And who was a Democrat.

Then we have the other piece focused on the other intellectual leading light of the Right, Eric Cantor.

After successfully engineering the latest debt ceiling vote last week, Mr. Cantor flew to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he road-tested those themes as the lone House Republican leader rubbing elbows with the international élite.

Citing a struggling single mother with a gifted child in a poor city neighborhood, he told Davos attendees, “We need to create some type of competitive mechanisms” to help her escape the bad schools she is stuck with.

I imagine that a lot of those intellectually élite representatives of countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, China, Japan, and so on, are going to be thinking, “Why don’t you Americans just improve your public education system?”  I’d love to hear about the “economically competitive mechanisms” that are going to bring entrepreneurs running to serve the needs of communities with lousy schools, especially the run-of-the-mill students there.  (After all, it’s only in Lake Woebegone that everyone is above average).  Maybe the same corporations that are doing so well serving our out-sized prison population.


I Am Entitled

December 20, 2012

newwileyTime to revisit that “fiscal cliff” that everyone is blathering about.  Let’s get some clarity, and take a look at the data, the actual facts of income distribution in the USA.

The chart below, from the US Census Bureau, lays it all out.  It’s not a graph that you see much in the news, and certainly not one that politicians use:  I’m not sure which is the more significant reason for this – that they don’t want people to see the facts; that they are incapable of understanding data charts; or that they assume the public is incapable.  Well, here goes…

US income distribution 2010

click to enlarge

As you can see, the Median Household Income is about $49,500.  That’s household income, not individual income, and the average household is about four people.  You know, parents, children, the usual deal, more or less…

So half of all households in America make less than that amount, with quite a lot of people concentrated in the bottom 1/5th of the income scale.  Of course, not everyone lives in NYC where housing is extremely expensive, but most people do live in metropolitan areas, and would you want to live with your family on $49K a year, or less…assuming that you don’t live on that now?

Sooo, in the negotiations over the ‘cliff’, the Republicans are holding out to keep taxes low for people making up to $1,000,000.  Those millionaires can’t afford more annual taxes!  Obama, because he’s a sap in negotiations, or maybe for reasons even worse to contemplate, gave in, and has proposed to raise the limit from $250,000, on which he campaigned, to $400,000.  Everyone making up to $400,000 gets a tax break again.

Meanwhile, he’s caving in on entitlements, i.e. payments to people through programs they pay into under specified ‘agreements’ worked out in Congress.  No freeloaders here:  you join the system and you get a described benefit.  These payouts benefit everyone who works, but they are obviously vastly more important for the people in the bottom 3/5ths of the scale than for the other 40%.

So here’s the thing…The negotiations are about giving a benefit to the top 2%, that grey bar on the right that represents everyone making over $250K (the chart isn’t wide enough to show each increment, so they lump them together), and cutting back on benefits to everyone else And the vast majority of the people who need those benefits being cut, really need them, to…er…live, you know…


NYPD, Eight Years After…

October 2, 2012

I discussed the appalling actions of the New York Police Department at the Republican National Convention in 2004 in an earlier post, much earlier…  Today, the Times reports that a judge ruled the behavior of the police illegal.  Oh…not all of it.  They were within their rights to fingerprint the people they arrested, a fact that their spokesman trumpeted loudly.  Only problem is that the arrests themselves were illegal.


Thank you again, Mr. Romney!

September 18, 2012

 

Once again, Mitt Romney tells it like it is!  Could we ask for a better statement of the views of the power elite than his flippant dismissal of 47% of the United States population as self-victimized freeloaders on the government?  Never mind the facts, which have been rehearsed, to his detriment, ad infinitum, in the news, but he has clearly told us what the mental picture of the land is in the hearts and minds of his monied donors.  (And those that give to the Democrats, too, probably!) 

And as for that other 53%?  I’m sure he knows that it is only that top sliver that does any real productive work, making jobs (disappear) and making piles of money, and the like.  Everyone else is just the hired help.  What a guy!  You gotta love ’em!

Uh…but these latest remarks sort of contradict the ones quoted in the earlier post.  No matter, it’s always 1984 somewhere!


Man with No Name meets Man with No Script

September 3, 2012

No Name

No Script