Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hillary Announces

To absolutely no one's surprise Hillary Clinton has announced that she is running for president.

I'm still a bit pissed at Hillary for never admitting that voting to authorize the war in Iraq was a mistake. I've always suspected her of being about as close to  Hawk as a Democrat can get.

I also seem to remember that the last time around we didn't see eye to eye on opposition to the Death Penalty or support for Gay Marriage but eight years is a long time.

I suppose I should keep a running Democratic Party list like I have a Republican Party list.

#1 - Hillary Clinton* - I still haven't forgiven her for not owning up to the fact that the Iraq War was a big mistake but she's got all the right ducks lined up on the economy. Besides, what choice do I have?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Religious Freedom Argument

This is the current favorite argument of the religious right in the battle against gay marriage.

Let's dissect this a bit.

First of all the argument isn't about gay marriage per se but rather some of the implications resulting from making gay marriage legal.

The argument actually focuses on the question of who can refuse service to who and for what reasons.

Clearly a vendor or store owner can refuse service for specific actions. This is the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" argument and the reason why a Jewish store owner can refuse service to a Neo-Nazi. It's not unknown for store owners or restaurants to eject rude or rowdy customers. As a society we accept this sort of thing. As a matter of fact we actually applaud it.

At the other extreme we do not condone refusing to serve blacks at a lunch counter simply because they're black. As a society we have decreed that you cannot refuse service to someone because you don't like who they are. This includes race, religion and national origin.

In some states it also includes gender orientation and gender identity. In other words just like you cannot discriminate against someone simply because they are black, you also cannot discriminate against someone simply because they are homosexual or transgender.

Fifteen states prohibit discrimination based upon gender orientation and gender identity. An additional six states prohibit discrimination based upon gender orientation only. Ten other states have partial protection based upon gender orientation.

The other nineteen states have no specific discrimination protection for homosexuals or transgender people.

So, what does this have to do with gay marriage?

The question becomes is gay marriage a specific action or simply a part of who someone is.

Some Christians believe that gay marriage is immoral and that providing any sort of support for a gay wedding, flowers, a cake, photographs, is essentially condoning an action which violates their religious beliefs. Clearly they consider it a specific action.

But then the problem becomes why limit the objection to gay weddings? Gays who aren't married also most likely engage in specific actions some Christians would consider to be against their religion. So does that mean by extension someone can refuse service to someone simply because they're gay?

Do you see the conflict here?

Let's ignore that for a moment and focus on gay marriages. Can someone who considers a gay marriage immoral refuse to supply services for a gay wedding? In the states that prohibit discrimination based upon gender identify the answer is apparently no you cannot.

The two most well known cases of store owners getting into trouble because they refused service to a gay couple were in Oregon and New Mexico which are two of the fifteen states that prohibit discrimination based upon gender orientation and gender identity.

As for the states with no prohibition in place, I assume one can discriminate with impunity UNLESS there is some other law or constitutional provision that might apply. That would probably take a court case to determine.

Gay marriage becoming legal everywhere isn't going to change this much other than the simple fact that if gay marriage wasn't legal then no one would be asking anyone to supply services for a gay wedding.

Personally I would be willing to allow store owners to refuse services for gay weddings if they're willing to post a clear sign to that effect. If you're sure you're right then this shouldn't bother you at all and it would prevent the awkwardness of a gay couple trying to get services and then being refused.

Let's see how this one goes over shall we? Of course this might lose you other customers as well but why should anyone care about that when their eternal salvation is at stake?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Republican 2016 Field

I can hardly keep up.

Marco Rubio has announced his candidacy and I keep forgetting about Bobby Jindel (perhaps because he's so forgettable).

I think I need to also differentiate between those that have officially announced their candidacy and those that are simply acting like they're running. So here's my new and improved list. * = I believe he has "officially" announced his candidacy.

#1 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya. But the man needs to learn that he's not Hispanic as he claimed once.

#2 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell. If it weren't for his idiotic deal with Exxon-Mobil, I might even list him as #1.

#3 - Marco Rubio* - I don't agree with Rubio on a lot but he doesn't strike me as completely crazy like a few of the others in this field.

#4 - Ted Cruz* - Cruz is hopeless but most of the others are even worse!

#5 - Rand Paul* - Like his dad, not only does Paul not have any solutions, he doesn't even understand the questions. This is a man that wants to eliminate Meals on Wheels because seniors that can't afford food should depend upon charity.

#6 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

#7 - Bobby Jindel - Undoubtedly the worst of the people that might actually be considered qualified. Look what a great job he did in Louisiana. Why would anyone vote for this turkey?

#8 - Mike Huckabee - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so. He's dropped in my list because after thinking about who might be at least qualified to be president from this list, I can't honestly say I consider Huckabee, despite his stint as governor of Arkansas, to be qualified.

#9 - Rick Santorum - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse than Walker and Jindel. He's worse because I don't even consider this ass wipe qualified for the job.

#10 - Ben Carson - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems. I hope he gets regular brain scans just in case there's something growing up there.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Restraining Order

Let's talk a little more about this idea of a "Restraining Order" to prevent the SCOTUS or other federal courts from ruling on gay marriage.

The basis for the idea comes from Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 of the US Constitution which states:

"In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

So the idea is that congress could make rulings on marriage, including rulings on gay marriage, an exception.

The problem with that idea, and Ted Cruz should damn well know this, is that congress cannot limit the essential functions of the court including the function of the court to protect constitutional rights.

So, while congress might be able to restrict the court's jurisdiction on the non-constitutional aspects of marriage, gay rights/marriage IS a constitutional rights issue so restricting the courts appellate jurisdiction on it would be unconstitutional.

Rand Paul Throws His Hat in the Ring.

Rand Paul has announced that he's seeking the Republican presidential nomination. This is Mr. I can be Everything to Everyone. I have to believe that it's only a matter of time before he ends up skewering himself because of this.

I didn't include Paul in my Republican candidate list from last time so allow me to update it.  I think I'll slide Paul in right after Cruz but before Huckabee.

#1 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya.
#2 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell.
#3 - Ted Cruz - Cruz is hopeless but everyone else is even worse!
#4 - Rand Paul - Like his dad, not only does Paul not have any solutions, he doesn't even understand the questions.
#5 - Mike Huckabee - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so.
#6 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel.
#7 - Rick Santorum - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse than Walker.
#8 - Ben Carson - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems.

Other than brother Jeb or Christie it's utterly terrifying that one of these people could win the nomination of a major political party in this country. It's even more terrifying that Ted Cruz is #3!

Gay Marriage and Civil War

Right Wing Watch is reporting that James Dobson, in a recent ant-gay conference call, warned that a Supreme Court decision  in favor of gay marriage could lead to civil war.

It could also lead to a rainfall of peppermint drops and is about as likely.

Dobson said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity.” Jimmy baby, did you sleep through the civil rights and Vietnam eras?

The only reason the gays rights issue has reached any degree of intensity is the fear mongering by those using it as a cash cow.

The fact of the matter is there aren't enough people that give that much of a shit about the whole thing.

Those that do are more concerned about the dire predictions being tossed around by unscrupulous or clueless pundits. If people would stop and THINK for a second they would realize that none of these things have happened in the countries and states where gay rights, including gay marriage, currently exist.

Of course asking conservatives to "think" is invariably a losing proposition. I don't think they're capable of thinking for themselves.

Then we have Janet Porter who thinks getting Congress to issue a "restraining order" to stop the SCOTUS and other federal courts from ruling on gay marriage is a good idea. Ted Cruz has proposed something similar.

Aside from the fact that this is undoubtedly unconstitutional, it would be political suicide.

Both Dobson and Porter, like many extremists, are delusional. They're so wound up it their own extremism that they can't see that almost no one else shares their craziness.

I sincerely hope the SCOTUS rules in favor of gay marriage. I'm not naive enough to think the issue will go away entirely but, when nothing bad happens, it will at least limit the ability of idiots like these two to threaten the end of civilizations because two gays are allowed to enter into the civil legal contract called marriage.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

The idea behind the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was to restrict government from interfering with religious freedom. The key section states  “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."

The law allows an exception if two conditions are met.

(1) The burden must be necessary for the "furtherance of a compelling government interest."

(2)  The rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest.

In the Hobby Lobby case the SCOTUS found that (a) the closely held for profit corporation Hobby Lobby qualified as a "person;" (b) the contraception mandate of the ACA substantially burdened the "person's" exercise of religion and (c) the contraception mandate was not the least restrictive way to further the government interest.

In 1997 in City of Boerne v. Flores the federal RFRA was found unconstitutional with respect to the states but continued to be enforced for the federal government.

This decision led to 19 states issuing similar RFRA laws at the state level protecting religion from state and local government.

Fast forward now to Indiana and its version of the RFRA. If the federal government and 19 states already had such laws what was the big deal?

The big deal was that the Indiana law was different in two important ways.

The first difference was in Section 7 where the law defines a "person" as just about any conceivable entity including "a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint stock company, or an unincorporated association."

The second difference is while other RFRAs talk about obtaining appropriate relief against the government, the Indiana RFRA expands that to saying that a "person" "may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."

So despite what all the right wing media has been saying this version of an RFRA goes way beyond protecting against government overreach. It is clearly crafted to allow businesses to refuse service to people they don't like based upon religion.

I don't know why this is a surprise to Governor Pence considering that the executive director of a rabidly anti-gay hate group helped draft the bill and was standing behind him when he signed it.

At any rate, despite waffling by Governor Pence, the Indiana legislature, undoubtedly feeling the heat, amended the bill to prohibit using it as a basis for discrimination.

Then there is the case of Memories Pizza in Walkerton Indiana who said flat out they would refuse to provide pizzas for a gay wedding (who has pizza at a wedding?) based upon the law.

The backlash caused them to close shop and supposedly go into hiding. But in the meantime over $500,000 has been raised in their support on GoFundMe.com so they'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

I don't know if this is a case of someone really stupid getting really lucky or one of the greatest cons in recent memory.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Betty Bowers explains "Religious Freedom" Laws

According to Betty, if Christians discriminate against or criticize someone else, it's "Religious Freedom." But if anyone discriminates against or criticizes Christians, it's "Persecution."

See how simple that is?

What is Chip Kelly doing?

In the off season there is a mood of desperation to find stuff to talk about. The big news of course is the draft but before that is the free agency and trade circus.

To say that Chip Kelly, coach of the Eagles, has been raising some eyebrows with the moves he's been making would be a drastic understatement.

First he traded LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for LB Kiko Alonso. This trade also freed up a lot of cap space for the Eagles.

Then he sent Nick Foles plus a 4th round pick in 2015 and a 2nd round 2016 draft pick to the Rams for Sam Bradford and a 5th round pick in 2015. The kicker in this deal is that if Bradford doesn't start eight games for Philadelphia they'll get a 4th round pick in 2016. If he gets injured, they'll get a 3rd round pick in 2016.

The Eagles also have Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley at QB and are rumored to be looking to move up in the draft for Marcus Mariota. The latest rumor is the Eagles would like to trade Barkley for a low round draft pick and sign Tim Tebow.

Finally he signed Demarco Murray from the Cowboys for the same amount of money that LeSean McCoy had been making and eliminated any cap space the first trade may have gained.

So, so far, we have McCoy, Foles, a 4th round 2015 pick and a second round 2016 pick gone and Alonso, Bradford, Murray and a 4th round pick in 2016 replacing them.

Kiko Alonso is a great pick-up that's going to cause NFC East rivals headaches for years to come and Murray is at least as good as McCoy. As for Bradford rather than Foles, we'll have to see.

Other possible moves would be Barkley replaced by Tebow and some low round pick from an unknown team and a trade to move up for Mariota.

Any team which would trade for Barkley would have to be really desperate at QB because Barkley hasn't exactly shown a lot in the way of potential. Any trade to move up for Mariota would cost a small fortune including at least 1st round picks for 2015 and 2016 and perhaps even a 1st or 2nd rounder for 2017.

Some football "pundits" have questioned Kelly's sanity but I suspect Kelly knows precisely what he wants and is simply going about getting it.

Watch the Eagles go for the Ttian's 2nd round pick in order to get Mariota. I don't think he's going to fall lower than that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let the Games Begin!

Ted Cruz became the first official candidate for president in 2016 announcing his intent to run at Liberty University in Virginia.

It was a little hard to determine from his remarks if Cruz wanted to be president or Chief Pastor.

I can only assume that Ted is trying to garner some easy publicity before the adults come out to play. Let's remember that this is a man that campaigned to shut down the government in order to stop Obamacare when Obamacare, as part of mandatory spending, wouldn't be affected by such a shutdown.

He has also has repeated demonstrated that he has no idea what Net Neutrality is but he's against it anyway.

It's really going to be hard to determine which of the potential GOP candidates is the worst. In addition to Ted Cruz we have possible candidates in Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

If I had to rank this menagerie head to toe it would probably look something like this:

#1 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya.
#2 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell.
#3 - Ted Cruz - Cruz is hopeless but everyone else is even worse!
#4 - Mike Huckabee - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so.
#5 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel.
#6 - Rick Santorum - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse.
#7 - Ben Carson - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems.

On the other side of the aisle there appears to be a wide range of choices. You can have Hillary. You can nominate Hillary. Or you can support Hillary.

Let's remember however that everyone was ready to crown her Democratic nominee in 2008 as well.