What part of “US District Court judge” did you not understand, Donald? Sure, if you sue, you’ll go through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, before you get to the Supreme Court, but you haven’t done that yet. Continue reading →
Try this: stop, close your eyes, and focus on your other senses instead. You might discover a world beyond your eyes that you haven’t payed enough attention to.
Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm
“Your eyes can deceive you – don’t trust them” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars
We experience the world so much through our eyes. Poets and philosophers have talked about our eyes being windows into our souls, about a picture – perceived via our vision – being worth a thousand words. Those of us who are able to see normally (or with minimal correction to our vision) too often pity the blind and nearly blind for being unable to experience the beauty of a sunset or appreciate the artistry of a painting.
But Obi-Wan’s wisdom is known to anyone who has studied how easily our brains can be tricked by visual illusions. Our eyes can be deceived. As amazing a product of evolution eyesight is, it isn’t perfect by any means. And while it’s possible to have a profound experience looking at a photograph or inspecting a microbe through a microscope, we have other senses. And it’s possible to have profound experiences that are driven by our other senses as well.
Over the years, I’ve had profound experiences that had little or nothing to do with my vision. Not always good experiences, but there’s nothing in the definition of “profound” that requires the experience to be a good or pleasant one. Continue reading →
If you have ever watched the original Star Trek TV series, you know that anyone on an away team wearing a red shirt was doomed to die. Except Scotty – Scotty is invincible.
And if you’ve seen the original three Star Wars movies (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi), you’ll know that Stormtroopers can not hit anything. Combine these two foibles and you get the SF fanboy/girl joke at right.
Neil Gorsuch and Merrick Garland (image credit: CNN)
If I was a US Senator, here’s what I would do about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats filibustering his vote, and the possibility of rule changes.
First, I’d let Gorsuch’s nomination fail. If it took a filibuster by the Democrats to kill it, so be it. After what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley did to Merrick Garland’s nomination, the Democrats have a right to their pound of flesh. They’ve earned it. They deserve it. And if it takes a filibuster against Gorsuch to give them their pound of flesh, so be it.
Second, I’d tell Donald that I was going to let Democrats have their pound of flesh and to get his second choice option ready to submit, because he is going to need his backup nominee. Continue reading →
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Due to the unclear wording of the Second Amendment and the presence of an unexpected comma, the Second Amendment’s intent is vague. Until 2007, the Supreme Court had held that the Second Amendment applied to only the collective ownership of firearms of militias, most commonly understood to be the National Guards of the various states. In the District of Columbia vs. Heller decision, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court overturned this long history and held that the Second Amendment defined an individual right to possess firearms. Heller also held that the right was not unlimited, although exactly what limits are permissible has not yet been tested at the Supreme Court.
Ultimately, however, the confusing language and sentence structure of the Second Amendment means that Americans can hold a variety of opinions about firearms and still be aligned with American values. Continue reading →
Every once in a while I’m reminded in stark terms why I’m not a market trader, why I don’t consider even the most sacrosanct economic “laws” as nothing more than generic guidelines, and why the market should always be treated as if it’s almost, but not quite as rational as a rabid, starving badger suffering from mad cow disease. Today’s example is this: Tesla shares break $300 for the first time, closing in on GM’s market cap.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The United States was not founded as a Christian nation. It is not now and has never been a Christian nation. Anyone who wants the United States to be run in strict adherence to Christian morality – or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Wiccan morality – is advocating for an unAmerican position. Similarly, requiring prayer in a public school is also unAmerican. Continue reading →
The wonderful thing is that, no matter what the House Republicans do today, they lose. Either they overreach and risk losing their seats in 2018, or they fail to deliver on their “repeal and replace Obamacare” campaign promises and risk losing their seats in 2018. Either way, they lose. Continue reading →
Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.
This is the America First budget. In fact, we wrote it using the president’s own words. We went through his speeches. We went through articles that have been written about his policies … and we turned those policies into numbers. (from NPR)
That’s what Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said while briefing reporters on Donald’s proposed budget.
How does eliminating funding for the Independent Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial chemical accidents and ensures the safety of the public, put America first?
How does eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which ensures universal access and helps fund non-profit, community television and radio stations around the country, put America first?
Medicaid (the medical insurance program for the poor) would be cut by $880 billion over the next 10 years. That reverses the tax increase levied on the wealthy to pay for the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and the CBO estimates that Trumpcare will result in 14 million poor people losing Medicaid over the next 10 years. 14 million people.
I’ve been happily paying higher taxes without complaint for years so that my income could subsidize health insurance for people who couldn’t afford it – like friends and former coworkers who had been out of work and either had to self-insure for an insane amount of money or go without insurance and pray they didn’t get sick. It was the moral thing to do in 2013, and it still is. Continue reading →
TrumpCare’s first draft was written in secret. Obamacare was written largely in the public view.
TrumpCare was written over the course of a few weeks. Obamacare was written over the course of four months.
When drafting Trumpcare, Republicans didn’t get public input from doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, or patients’ advocacy groups. Democrats held public hearings with doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and advocacy groups to get their input on early drafts.
Donald’s proposed deep cuts to NOAA satellite operations will make weather forecasting less reliable and run counter to Donald’s goal of “rebuilding” the military.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
According to the Washington Post, Donald is considering deep cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of his proposed budget. The anonymous sources upon which the Post based their article cautioned that the exact details of which programs would get cut and by how much would likely change, but the relative magnitudes of the reported cuts provide some insight into Donald’s thinking:
Based on these numbers, we can surmise that Donald doesn’t want to impact weather forecasting (which is important to literally everyone), wants to maintain the fishing industry, but wants to cut most climate science and government-funded research out of NOAA. The problem is that it’s not going to work. Continue reading →
I wouldn’t have asked for single-party Republican rule, but now we’ve got it, I hope they overreach badly and get tossed out on their asses for it in two years.
Over the years, I’ve occasionally wondered whether it would be a good idea to let the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency. My logic went like this: once they’re in power, they’ll overreach so badly that the next midterm and Presidential elections will go overwhelmingly to the Democrats. It’s not that the Democrats wouldn’t necessarily overreach, but rather that Democrats’ sense of fairness and general willingness to follow data to wherever it leads makes them less likely to overreach as badly. That and the fact that it’s past time for the pendulum to swing back toward the left (not just the center-right, as it did under Obama).
But I’ve always concluded that, while the Republicans taking over might sound good in theory, practically speaking it was a very bad idea for a variety of reasons. The Republicans might install a right-wing conservative onto the Supreme Court. They would probably cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. They likely lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor and middle class. They might cut unemployment insurance, food stamps, and housing credits for the poor. They would be more likely to get the US into even more wars and spend even more on an already massively military-industrial complex.
So even though I’ve thought about voting Republican in an attempt to force the country back to the left in the following election cycle, my values wouldn’t let me.
Which brings me to 2017. Donald, who claims to be a Republican, is President. Republicans control the House of Representatives. Republicans also control the Senate. And while I certainly wouldn’t have wished for this to happen, it has. Continue reading →
Milloy has been manufacturing fear, uncertainty, and doubt for dirty industries since he helped the tobacco industries continue addicting and killing customers in the 1990s.
Steven J. Milloy (image credit: Fox News)
Donald doesn’t care about the truth. He doesn’t mind the truth, but when the truth or objective reality get in the way of Donald’s plans, he keeps the plan and jettisons the truth. I learned yesterday about one of the more insidious examples of this fact, specifically in reference to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Milloy is not be a household name, but he’s long been known as a liar-for-hire who is willing to sell his dishonesty to any dirty industry facing regulations that might curtail their profits, especially the tobacco industry, the agriculture industry, and the energy industry. I personally have been aware of Milloy since 2007, when I first stumbled across a “survey” that he had created in order to manufacture fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about the reality of industrial climate disruption. Continue reading →
Somebody has to protect consumers, not just from Wall Street but protect them from Washington as well. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has hurt consumers. Free checking at banks has been cut in half. Banking fees have gone up. Working people are finding it more difficult to get mortgages.
The bottom line is the best consumer protection are competitive, innovative markets that are transparent.
Yes, it’s true that some working people are having a hard time finding mortgages, but it’s not because mortgage markets aren’t transparent, competitive, or innovative. It’s because those working people are not making enough money to afford the house they want, or have poor credit histories. Free checking isn’t available as much any more because banks are no longer allowed to make up the costs of the free checking by charging exorbitant overdraft fees. In other words, the CPFB is doing exactly what it’s chartered to do – protect consumers from predatory banks and bankers. Continue reading →
Donald lost tonight, and every time he’s lost he’s gone on Twitter or stood before an audience to rant against whoever was responsible for his loss. I anticipate that Donald will attack the media again for reporting the facts about Flynn and his Russia contacts. And I expect he’ll instruct his new Attorney General to figure out who in the FBI was investigating Flynn, and who leaked the information that Flynn was being investigated….
I don’t know about anyone else, but if I found out my National Security Advisor had been lying to me and was susceptible to blackmail by foreign powers as a result of it, I’d have fired him almost immediately, not waited two weeks until the media broke the story and forced my hand. Because, you know, national security. But maybe that’s because I take stuff like this seriously, rather than treating the Presidency like a business investment. Continue reading →
Donald doesn’t lose well. I doubt he’ll ignore the role of the media and FBI leaks in Flynn’s resignation
Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)
Michael Flynn, Donald’s now former National Security Advisor, resigned from his position this evening. In a statement, Flynn said he “misled” Vice-President Pence about a phone call Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in which the two discussed having Donald lift sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under investigation by the Justice Department since Donald took office, if not before then, and the fact that Flynn was being investigated had been widely reported in the media. In fact, the Washington Post reported just tonight that the FBI considered Flynn a blackmail risk due to his lying to Pence.