Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Short: Legal thinking of Chief Justice Roberts

This article, though moderately long, is definitely worth reading. It focuses on Roberts' dissent to the same-sex marriage decision. But it also illuminates certain constitutional arguments in a way that makes them accessible to those people (like me) who glaze over from most discussions of 'due process rights' and other legal terms. If you find the term 'activists judges' poorly defined, you'll have a better idea of what it could actually mean in the context of legal thought.

The article also talks about assumed 'fundamental rights' like the right to marry. It ends with a chilling warning about a constitutional philosophy that would send us back to the 1800s and void many laws and regulations, including child labor laws. It's not at all likely to happen, but it's good for a tantalizing what-if scenario to get your blood moving. Sort of like a roller-coaster for the old, decrepit, and intellectual. That describes me and probably everyone on the Supreme Court. Sigh.

You assumed it was a right, but you're not a justice.
Image: flickr.com

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why the flag fell so fast

From a post earlier this week:
"Already Walmart and Ebay have stopped selling goods with the symbol. That is lightning fast--faster than I ever would have expected. I'm astounded, and I hope someday to understand how and why it happened now."
Now I have an inkling of why it happened so fast.

The speed indicated that there wasn't a lot of thought or planning required on the part of Walmart, Ebay, etc. Most likely, they already had plans to remove the Confederate flag, and all they had to do was press the 'execute' button. But why would a number of corporations have such plans at the ready?

Imagine you're a top executive on a company with lots of retail sales. You have to manage risks and plan for foreseeable events. One of those foreseeable events could be the assassination of the first black president of the US, or the assassination of one of his family members. It's not likely to happen, but it could, and it might have an impact on your company.

If something like that happened, it's not hard to imagine that some people who weren't fans of Obama would celebrate the assassination. They might fly the American flag during such a celebration. Flying the Confederate battle flag is also predictably likely. Maybe the assassin (if an American) would have taken pictures with Tea Party gear, or KKK gear, or Nazi gear. Not hard to imagine the Confederate flag on his Facebook page, or even a tattoo of the flag on his body.

Now many of these 'guesses' have a very low probability, but perhaps a major company would want to be ready. So when a company decided to be ready for a possible assassination, they would have plan on how to get rid of stock that has racial overtones, such as the Confederate flag.

If those plans are on the shelf, it wouldn't be hard to roll them out after these offensive multiple murders in Charleston. So, maybe that's the explanation for why several retailers dropped their Confederate flag merchandise so quickly. They had plans in place, and just hit the 'execute' button.

Do I have evidence? None other the news reports of how fast the decisions were made. So maybe I'm all wrong

For immediate liquidation
Image: tripplenews.com

Extra. Nah--just a business decision per this article.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A vignette in America's racist history

Sadly, I don't know enough of the history of my own country. That's part of the reason I'm only now realizing the extent of racist beliefs among my own generation.

One historical issue I'll delve into are the anti-lynching laws. I've heard about them before, but I never thought very deeply about them. Of course, lynching is horrible. But it's a terrible reflection on the US that lynching was acceptable to many people. Therefore lynching opponents tried to stop lynching through force of law.

Here are three historical artifacts connected to anti-lynching law:
  • The text of a 1919 anti-lynching bill supported by the NAACP. The law would have created a $10,000 penalty against any county where a lynching took place. The bill passed the House of Representative but died in the Senate due to a filibuster.
  • Warren Harding (in 1921) was a supporter of this anti-lynching bill. Harding was a progressive Republican elected in part due to his support for voting rights for women. Americans were less enthusiastic about his support for black civil rights. 
  • Even in 1938, the anti-lynching bill was blocked in the Senate by a filibuster.
So when did Congress finally pass anti-lynching legislation? 

It never did.

Image: cb14.raimistdesign.com

Extra. Go here to read about the lynching depicting in this image. It's the Jones lynching in Kentucky.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The fall of the Confederate flag

I wish I could say that this was a victory for civility, but it's not. People like Nikki Haley, Rand Paul, and Mitch McConnell aren't dropping their support for the confederate flag because they suddenly realized its unfriendly overtones, or because they suddenly decided it's wrong to offend large numbers of people.

No, it was a cost analysis. It finally cost them too much in terms of general respect to continue supporting the flag or being non-committal about it. But I wonder how they made that calculation. Are there snap polling firms that will alert a politician to such changes in the political winds? Maybe there are. Some firms probably track hashtags, and the pol's PR czar will be watching anxiously. One large polling firm, Public Policy Polling had a poll, but the report didn't break down lack of support by state, so it's hard to tell whether there was useful information there.

Maybe anxious PR czars tracked the number of clicks on stories about the confederate flag flying high over the South Carolina capitol grounds, protected from lowering unless a supermajority of legislators saw fit to debate and vote on it. I certainly clicked on that story. I read the history of the flag in South Carolina, and how pols grumpily moved it off the State House because of a boycott.

What it really symbolized

I also checked the history of the flags' use, and how it was adopted in wake of the civil rights movement. It was a fuck-you to the federal government and to northerners and to blacks and to those who supported the principle that all men are created equal, not just all white men. Fuck all those people! Give them a big middle finger by flying an old confederate battle flag, one that is clearly different from the stars-and-stripes.

So its modern popularity started as a banner for segregationists/racists. Since then it has become many more things, including a fuck-you to all authority figures (a rebel banner), a southern pride symbol, a fuck-you to diversity and political correctness advocates, a redneck pride symbol, and so on.

Hung out to dry

Last week was a very bad week for the confederate flag. First the Supreme Court decided that Texas didn't have to issue vanity license plates with the symbol on them. Then a racist shot nine black people in a church in a southern state that still proudly flies the fuck-you-I-support-segregation flag. That's a PR disaster, I guess.

Still, I'm surprised at how quickly it turned. Has it really become unsafe or unpopular to be a crypto, under-the-radar, soft racist? Can they no longer hide behind southern tradition?

Yes, that's a big surprise. Yet it really seems to have turned. Already Walmart and Ebay have stopped selling goods with the symbol. That is lightning fast--faster than I ever would have expected. I'm astounded, and I hope someday to understand how and why it happened now.

One final thought. I wrote above that I don't think civility has broken out across the country or the South. I'm afraid it's a matter of giving up an outward symbol without changing any actions or any sentiments.

To quote Nathan Gunn, speaker of the House in Mississippi: "As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed." Translation: We got away with this hate for a long time, but the party's over.

Image: lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com

Extras. An explanation of the societal and business trends against the confederate flag. HotAir: It's the Dems' fault for "happily tolerating" the flag for years. Is it because social liberals have reached parity with social conservatives? Uh oh--more flags to change. Complete text of the racist shooter's manifesto.

Update 6/24/15. Here's an interesting report. Maybe the PR czars were following what business leaders were tweeting. Possible boycott was definitely in the air. And does Romney deserve kudos for being the first top GOP figure to call for the removal of the confederate flag? Looks that way to me.

Short: The Worldwide Gonad Brotherhood

Who has the bigger balls? Is it Russians or Texans?

Maybe when they work on mutual interests, their balls get even bigger. This laugh riot is a story about Russia supporting Texas secessionists. (In case you didn't know, all soldiers from Texas are also believers in secession. I learned that from the article.)

Step 1. Secede.
Step 2. Get governing advice from this man.
Step 3. Glory.

Image: veteranstoday.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Unbearable Stupid: The Donald announces

I hate Donald Trump. He is one of the worst, least serious voices in politics. His role in the 2012 campaign was nauseating, all the more so because other candidates paid him some respect, which only served to pump him up some more.

Today he announced he's running for president. Of course he isn't! This is just a stupid, cynical, egotistical leap into what should be a serious race. The GOP presidential race is already not as serious  as it should be because the conservative media loves to anoint any favorite, no matter how fleeting, as a potential president. (I remember people declaring "Scott Brown for President" after his upset victory in a Massachusetts special election.) This year we have a former surgeon and political toddler named Ben Carson running, pumped up by God-knows-who.

The GOP doesn't seem to know what to do with its legion of joke candidates. They certainly aren't nearly embarrassed enough by all of them. With trepidation, I checked what the conservative media was saying about Trump's announcement. Oh no! HotAir looks positive on it:

Open thread: The classiest presidential announcement you’ve ever seen; Update: Trump’s in

Luckily, the content of the article points out many of the problems in Trump running, how unpopular he is, how this is probably a vanity campaign, what a long shot he is, etc. What a relief that the author isn't taking it as a serious campaign. I'm not going to tempt fate and read the comment section.

Breitbart.com gives Trump a straight news story, but Scott Walker is still the top story. That's good.

The Daily Caller shoves the story down into the third place ranking (or does it happen automatically by clicks?). Is the nasty picture (below) an editorial comment? I bet it is.

Maybe The Donald is finally getting the disrespect he deserves. About time.

Image: dailycaller.com

Update 6/20/15. Trump hired extras to plump out the crowd for his announcement. Pay was $50 for 3 hours work.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Short: Manipulated into war

This is great short article about the factors that have leading us into nearly non-stop wars. It's a list of 12 reasons, but perhaps it's not a complete list. For example, it doesn't mention/question our role as policeman to the world.

The most interesting reason (in my opinion) was the last one:
"We are very vulnerable to false flag operations and paid foreign propaganda. Various foreign nations or rebel interests want us to bomb and/or invade their local enemies... Saudi Arabia wants us to destroy Iran, Turkey wanted us to attack Assad in Syria, Israeli (and neocon) hawks wanted us to “rip apart” Iraq..."
So we have both internal and external factions pushing us into hopeless wars. How should we deal with these internal and external factions?

Image: thetimes.co.uk 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Short: Interesting observation on campaign issues

Here's a somewhat biased article on campaign issues from the Daily Beast. It notes that a majority of Americans support Obamacare or want something even more progressive. It also notes that a supermajority of Americans now support same-sex marriage being legally recognized.

What's interesting is that Obamacare probably should be a more defining issue since it affects many more people. But contrary to expectations, marriage may be more important when it comes to voters' decisions because the GOP may make themselves look "prejudiced or out of touch..." And it's easier to see that with same-sex marriage than with the complex issues of healthcare.

I really wish Americans didn't subcontract their thinking out to strident and shallow third parties. But I'm lazy about some things too, so I should be more understanding.

It will be interesting to see if the prediction in this article is correct. But we can't be sure what really affected people in the voting booth. A better indicator may be the chatter in the media and social media. And that will be visible.

Don't be a cranky old fart.
Image: abcnews.go.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Unforgettable headline: America the Dangerous

If I remember correctly, dwarf tossing was a game at some Australian bars. Maybe this is karma. Only with smarter mammal is doing the throwing.  (Survival is predicted.)

Image: quickmeme.com