Monday, October 12, 2015

Three Months Later

Almost three months have passed since the Supreme Court made Gay Marriage legal in all 50 states and the echoes of descent are dimming but not quite out.

Yes Kim Davis became a Right Wing Darling for refusing marriage licenses in Kentucky but everyone else has pretty much ignored aberrations like this and moved on.

Which is not to say that some Republican politicians and Right Wing groups aren't attempting to make political capital or cash capital out of the decision by trying to bilk the under 80 IQ trailer park set that represents the Conservative base.

I expect the whining and occasional tantrum to continue for quite but I doubt it will ever have the emotional power of an issue like abortion. I suppose we shall see what wee shall see.

Monday, September 21, 2015

So Much for Walker

Apparently it's now official, Walker is out of the race.

That's good. Now if we can get rid of the rest of the dead weight that would be an accomplishment.

I'd like to see the Republican field get down to Trump, Bush, Fiorina, Kasish and Rubio. At least then we might have a chance at a rational conversation. I leave Trump in simply because he makes people face up to ideas they're uncomfortable with.

I still think Bush wins this especially now that a lot of the money that was backing Walker is looking for a new puppet.

The Presidential Race

It's been over two months since I've tried to untangle what the hell is going on in the presidential races.

The Republican race is like watching a bunch of zoo animals on a roller coaster and the Democratic race, and yes it now appears to be a race, seems to be morphing into the Wise Old Wizard vs. the Wicked Witch with Uncle Joe sipping beer in the corner.

First the Republicans. When last we met back in August I had divided the 17 candidates into two groups. The top contenders made up "The Terrible Ten" and the rest "The Trash Heap Seven." I then listed candidates based upon a combination of "sane enough put up with" and "probability of winning."

Well there have been some changes since then.

First Rick Perry quit the race so now it's "The Trash Heap Six" at least temporarily. I've put the latest poll numbers in parentheses.

The Terrible Ten

#1 - Donald Trump (#1 - 24%)
- Still at the head of the pack. Unfortunately his statements have gotten more and more outrageous as time has gone on. While I'm willing to give a businessperson a chance instead of another politician Trump is beginning to wear on me.

 #2 - Jeb Bush (#5 - 9%)- There are a lot of things I don't like about Bush and he's probably incompetent but at least he's not crazy. I still think he's got the inside track because he's the man the corporate men like.

#3 - Carly Fiorina (#2 - 15%) - Ms Fiorina has done VERY well in the debates and it has catapulted her into the big time. Her tenure at HP could still become a milestone around her neck but this is getting interesting.

#4 - Ben Carson (#3 - 14%) - Mister Delusional himself. If he were to somehow end up in the White House I'd move to Scandinavia. His latest nonsense is saying that a Muslim should never be president. Now, I probably wouldn't vote for a Muslim either but if Carson can exclude one group then any group can be excluded. This is a bad precedent to set.

 #5 - Marco Rubio (#4 - 11%) - He's done well in the debates as well and I'm pretty sure he's not crazy.

 #6 - John Kasich (#10 - 2%) - Like Rubio he benefits from the benefit of the doubt. He might not be crazy.

 #7 - Chris Christie (#9 - 3%) - I think Christie is a complete ass-hole so you can imagine what I think of the ones below.

#8 - Ted Cruz (#6 - 6%) - He's crazy and he's still ahead of a bunch of the field.

#9 - Rand Paul (#8 - 4%) - Like his dad, not only doesn't he have any answers but he doesn't even understand the questions.

 #10 - Mike Huckabee (#7 - 6%) - Huckabee is a complete lunatic and he demonstrated it again making nice with the Kentucky clerk defying the Supreme Court. Can someone please run him over with a truck?

The Trash Heap Six

#11 - Scott Walker (< 1%) - I told you it was just a matter of time before this dum-dum started dribbling at the mouth. The rumor is that he's ready to drop hell.

#12 - George Patacki (< 1%) - Patacki could be a reasonable president but I think he has no chance.

#13- Lindsay Graham (< 1%) - Same as Patacki, no chance.

 #14 - Jim Gilmore (< 1%)  - The governor of Virginia has no chance but I'll take him over Jindel and Santorum.

 #15 - Bobby Jindel (< 1%) - This guy is the world's biggest loser but I would still take him over Carson, Huckabee and Santorum because they're completely crazy.

 #16 - Rick Santorum (#11 - 1%) - He's not as crazy as Huckabee but he's still crazy.

The Scrap Heap

Rick Perry - Has thrown in the towel.

The scariest development here is Carson. He's in the Huckabee/Santorum lunatic category yet 14% of Republican voters apparently think he should be president.

On the Democratic side Bernie Sanders, The Wise Old Wizard, just won't go away. Rumor has it that he's competitive if not ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire. Can Sanders win a National Election? Can Clinton win a National Election? Does anyone want them to win a National Election?

2016 is shaping up as a really screwed up election.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Let's Talk About Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Kentucky county clerk that has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. As a matter of fact she hasn't been issuing them to anyone and is being sued by two gay and two heterosexual couples.

Basically Davis is claiming religious freedom. She claims that issuing a marriage license which "conflicts with God's definition of marriage" "would violate my conscience." She has also expressed the position that this is a "Heaven or Hell" decision for her.

"To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment..."

There are several issues with Davis' position.

The first issue is there is a legal difference between the person of Kim Davis and the person of the Rowan County Clerk. Davis is protected under the 1st Amendment but the county clerk is not. The county clerk has to obey the law. Davis cannot extend her religious beliefs unto the legal person of the county clerk.

The second issue is the marriage we're talking about is a civil marriage which is a construct of the state. It's essentially a legal contract. It is a secular state issue that "God" has nothing to do with.

The third and final issue is that obeying the law, as required by Romans 13:1-5, would not in any way reflect upon Davis' opinions, beliefs or conscience. Romans 13:1-5 is essentially a "get out of jail free card" for members of the church living under oppressive or heretical regimes.

Davis is also probably getting lousy advice from her lawyers since seeing her in jail better fits their agenda.

And that's where Davis is at the moment. In jail. In the meantime her deputies at the county clerk's office were given the option by Judge Bunning of joining her in jail or issuing the marriage licenses.

Apparently all but one of the deputies agreed to do their job. One, her son I believe, demurred. Whether he will join his mother in jail is unclear but as long as someone is obeying the law and issuing licenses it's really not necessary.

Of course the Right Wing is going ape shit over this and comparing her to Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. I think they're glad she's in jail as they think it gives them a potential martyr and a rallying point.

I suspect in the final analysis this is going to backfire on them since there are still a lot more sane people in this country than bat-shit crazy ones and they expect public officials to obey the law or resign.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Idiocy of the Right Wing

There has been a minor dispute going on about the name of a mountain in Alaska named Mt. McKinley.

The mountain, at 20,237 feet, is the highest in North America and received its current name in 1917 in honor of President William McKinley. The local Koyukon Athabaskans had always called the mountain Denali which was based upon their word for high or tall.

Alaska has long maintained that the mountain's name be officially changed back to Denali since that's what it's called locally. The Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain to Denali in 1975 but a request by the Alaskan state legislature to the US Board of Geographic names was blocked by an Ohio congressman from McKinley's home town of Canton.

I suppose having the Pro Football Hall of Fame wasn't enough.

However the federal government has finally caught up and announced in August of 2015 that the name will officially be changed on the federal level to Denali in order to line up with what Alaska calls the mountain.

I mean, remember that 10th Amendment that conservatives keep crying about? I would think that naming your own landmarks would be covered under that.

Alas, not in today's contentious world. Incredibly, politicians in Ohio are up in arms over the change to the name of a mountain in Alaska that was named by a prospector for a president most of them probably didn't know came from Ohio before the name change was announced.

But, you know, this is just people being silly. For Republicans anything the Obama administration does is bad. He could cure cancer, resolve the debt, end poverty and bring about world peace and they would still find something to complain about.

You sort of expect it by now. It's like background noise to anyone with more than half a brain.

But Mike Huckabee brings stupidity to a whole new level. He's called the move "outrageous," claims it shows the president doesn't think there is any limits on his power and called upon Republicans in Congress to block the move.

How can anyone take people like this twit Huckabee seriously?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Birthright Citizenship

Birthright Citizenship simply refers to the principle that if you are born in the US then you are a US citizen. This has been the traditional interpretation of the 14th Amendment which states:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Of course Trump and the other Republican nominees that are calling for an end to Birthright Citizenship don't read the Constitution,

Or, if they do read the Constitution, they don't read case law.

The argument is that the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" does not apply to the children of illegal immigrants.

This issue was resolved in 1898. In the landmark case “U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark” the Supreme Court decided that the 14th Amendment must be interpreted based upon English Common Law and included all native-born children except for those who were: (1) born to foreign rulers or diplomats, (2) born on foreign public ships, or (3) born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country's territory.

So, unless someone would like to claim that illegal immigrants are "enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation" ending Birthright Citizenship would require either (a) the Supreme Court to overturn “U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark” or a constitutional amendment.

I suspect that none of the Republican bozos supporting this idea would bother to go this far. They're just playing off the god awful ignorance of the Republican base.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Colorado Cake Case

An appeals court in Colorado has upheld an administrative law judge's decision that refusing to bake a cake for a same sex wedding violated the Colorado Anti-Descrimination Act (CADA).

Masterpiece Cakeshop had claimed that requiring them to provide such a wedding cake violates their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

The court disagreed.

"...CADA does not compel Masterpiece to support or endorse any particular religious views. The law merely prohibits Masterpiece from discriminating against potential customers on account of their sexual orientation."

The court also specifically related this to discrimination against blacks and quoted from Newman v. Piggie Park Enters., Inc.

 "Undoubtedly defendant . . . has a constitutional right to espouse the religious beliefs of his own choosing, however, he does not have the absolute right to exercise and practice such beliefs in utter disregard of the clear constitutional rights of other citizens. This Court refuses to lend credence or support to his position that he has a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of the Negro race in his business establishment upon the ground that to do so would violate his sacred religious beliefs."

Masterpiece also claimed that they discriminated not because of the sexual orientation but simply because they're opposed to same sex marriage.

"Masterpiece thus distinguishes between discrimination based on a person’s status and discrimination based on conduct closely correlated with that status. However, the United States Supreme Court has recognized that such distinctions are generally inappropriate."

Both of these points are well established law with multiple precedents that should have been known by the legal team representing Masterpiece. The fact that they proceeded with the case anyway makes me wonder if they are incompetent or dishonest.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Case

A court clerk in Kentucky, Kim Davis by name, that has refused to issue marriage licenses to Gay Couples despite directions by the governor of Kentucky to do so.

With the help of Liberty Counsel she brought suit in federal court claiming to issue licenses her rights under the 1st Amendment and violated Article 6 of the Constitution forbidding any religious test to hold government office.

Today Justice David Bunning issued a preliminary injunction ordering her to do her job.

Judge Bunning summarized the question as "Does the Free Exercise Clause likely excuse Kim Davis from issuing marriage licenses because she has a religious objection to same sex marriage?"

He decided that the "Court answers this question in the negative."

The judge then went on to articulate the reasons for his decision.

"The Court must again point out that the act of issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple merely signifies that the couple has met the legal requirements to marry. It is not a sign of moral or religious approval."

Approval of the marriage is NOT a prerequisite to issuing a license. No one is asking the clerk not to disapprove.

"...Davis is simply being asked to signify that couples meet the legal requirements to marry. The State is not asking her to condone same-sex unions on moral or religious grounds, nor is it restricting her from engaging in a variety of religious activities."

Issuing a license to a same sex couple in no way restricts someone from practicing their religion.

"Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs...However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk."

If you can't perform the job requirements due to religious convictions, you can't expect the job requirements to be changed to accommodate your beliefs.

Liberty Counsel has advised Davis to ignore the court ruling and has issued an appeal.

The problem here of course is that this is standing in the way of the right of others to get married. What's the old saying? Your rights end where the next guy's rights begin?

This is essentially someone throwing a tantrum because they can't have their way. It's childish and immature. As for Liberty Counsel, they're giving their client lousy advice.

It should be interesting to see how Judge Bunning responds. He can't allow the rights of gay couples to be trampled on pending appeal can he?