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Scuba

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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
Number of posts: 44,981

Journal Archives

One Walker legacy: making the political process more favorable to GOP

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/298842321.html


Since they came to power in 2011, Walker and his party have not only changed the way the state is governed, but they have changed the political playing field. In a few big ways and lots of little ways, they have seemingly made it easier for Republicans and harder for Democrats to win elections. Whichever way the pendulum swings next year, the 2016 race will be contested under a different set of political rules than those of previous decades, rules adopted by one party over the ardent opposition of the other.

The most consequential of these changes involve redistricting, which has given the GOP a virtual lock on the Legislature, and Act 10, which disarmed a critical Democratic election ally, public employee unions. But the changes also involve an extensive rewrite of the state’s election rules.

...

Early Voting Curtailed. The window for early in-person voting used to be three weeks, and included the three weekends before Election Day. Now it runs just two weeks, with no weekend voting. Among other things, that ends Democratic “souls to the polls” Sunday voter drives in Milwaukee’s African-American churches. Democrats view the early voting curbs as an effort to suppress urban turnout.

...

Campaign finance. One final piece of the story is the loosening of rules for raising and spending money in state elections. This shift has been driven more by court decisions than by legislation. But Republicans plan to rewrite Wisconsin’s campaign finance law as a result of those court decisions. They’re expected to raise limits on individual contributions to candidates and liberalize rules for corporate spending.



Also noted in the article: Voter ID.

The Weaponization of Religious Exemptions

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2015/04/weaponization-religious-exemptions

If there’s a pattern to shifts in my uncertainty, though, it’s probably that I find myself drifting toward a more restrictive approach. In watching the politics of the Indiana law and its backlash, I think I’m getting a better sense of why that’s the case. What’s currently underway is what I’ll call the weaponization of religious exemptions. To explain what I mean by this, here are some classic examples of requests for religious exemptions: permission to use otherwise illegal substances for religious ceremonies, such as the Smith plaintiffs and Peyote, Catholics and sacramental wine during prohibition, Rastafari and marijuana);exemptions from zoning laws for the construction of Sukkahs and rules regarding the religious use of public property for the constructions of eruvs; exemption from mandatory military service, schooling requirements, or vaccinations; exemptions from incest laws (regarding Uncle/Niece marriages for some communities of Moroccan Jews); Native American religious groups seeking privileged access to sacred spaces on federally owned land;exemptions to Sunday closing laws for seventh-day Sabbatarians. I find some of these easy to support and others profoundly problematic, but they collectively share a common feature: they are fundamentally defensive in character. Their primary objective is to protect a practice or tradition or community, and little more. These exemptions are political but not in the sense that their exercise is directed toward the larger community in any concrete, meaningful sense. In these cases, the end sought in pursuing the exemption is, more or less, the exemption itself.

The requested accommodation in City of Boerne is a kind of transitional case. The exemption sought was to modify a church in a Historical District where such modifications were not permitted. While the exemption was clearly sought for the purpose of the exercise of religious activity, it wasn’t really a religious exemption per se—they wanted a bigger, more modern facility for more or less the general kind of reasons a private business or homeowner might have liked an exemption—accommodate more people, better amenities, etc. There was no connection between their status as a religious group and the nature of the particular exemption they were seeking; in essence they were arguing that the RFRA gives them license to avoid a law they found inconvenient. (Hypothetically, if a religious organization sought an exemption to historic zoning on grounds that their religion prohibited worshiping in buildings over a certain age for ceremonies, this case would have more merit.) Turning religious exemptions into a license for religious groups to evade general laws when inconvenient seems entirely deserving of pushback.

But this is only a partially weaponized use of religious exemptions; they’re being used as a weapon to advance the Church’s goals, but not striking against their political enemies. The quintessential case of a weaponized religious exemption is, of course, Hobby Lobby; Obamacare was to be the subject of a blitzkrieg, to be hit with any and every weapon imaginable, and that’s what the RFRA provided. Their efforts to make the claim appear credible could hardly be lazier or more half-assed. One possible check on weaponization, in a better and more decent society, could conceivably be a sense of embarrassment or shame; exposing one’s religious convictions as a cynical political tool to be wielded against one’s political enemies might be hoped to invoke enough embarrassment that it might be avoided, but we were well past that point. A remarkable document of this trend is this post from Patrick Deneen–fully, openly aware of the fundamental absurdity of Hobby Lobby’s case, cheering them on nonetheless. I mean, you’d think they’d at least have found a company owned by Catholics.

In light of that case, the transparent push for a super-RFRA deployable in private torts is not quite as egregious. It’s passing a bill that is by no means guaranteed to get them the results they want (my understanding is that no attempt to defend discriminatory behavior under any RFRA has yet been successful), and has plenty of other potential applications, some of which may be salutary. But the politics of it are undeniable; as in Kansas, Arizona and elsewhere, it’s plainly the case that this is simply the latest effort in the longstanding war on full social equality for gay and lesbian people. (If not having an RFRA at the books on the state level is such a grave threat to religious liberty, why haven’t we been hearing more about this since 1997, seeing as most states have no such law?) That this is a considerably less ambitious project in denying social equality than most previous battles fought in this war merely reflects the ground they’ve lost recently.


Fox News will now describe the lack of racism in America

Why isn't this man in jail?

McNews

Semantics

The Progressive: Chicago Mayoral Race Galvanizing Young Voters

http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/04/188075/chicago-mayoral-race-galvanizing-young-voters


As the Chicago mayoral race rolls through its last week, young people from Chicago’s South and West side neighborhoods are rallying behind Rahm Emanuel’s challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Far away from the city’s affluent neighborhoods, youth of color in Chicago see sides of this city that conflict with the “world class” image the mayor is so preoccupied with projecting. Gang violence, school crowding and closures, and unemployment disproportionally affect the youth. On Saturday, March 28 dozens of young voters gathered in front of the Chicago Board of Elections to early vote for Chuy Garcia. Some were voting for the very first time.

...

In many ways the issues dividing Chicago today are generational as well as racial. The older, white voters in the city are overwhelmingly concerned with the pension crisis. Garcia has been slammed for not providing concrete details about how he will handle the city’s precarious finances.

Many young people, however, must survive gang violence, and get through a school day with a seat in a classroom before they start thinking about retirement. For them, Garcia, who is endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Unions, SEIU, and other working class organizations, is a hopeful alternative to a mayor they feel has no interest in them.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Creates Ten Documented new Jobs

http://www.uppitywis.org/blogarticle/wisconsin-economic-development-corporation-creates-ten-documented-new-jobs-hiring-mr


Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Creates Ten Documented new Jobs with the Hiring of Mr. Duck

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) continues its job creation by hiring its fifth chief financial officer (CFO). Brandon Duck, who is currently the CFO at a Trinity Basin Charter School in Dallas, will start as the fifth CFO of Scott Walker's brainchild, WEDC later this month. So far WEDC can document at least ten new jobs created since it was established by Walker in 2011. These jobs are as follows; two chief executive officers (CEO) employed by WEDC, three Chief Operating Officers (COO) employed by WEDC and five Chief Financial Officers (CFO) employed by WEDC.

An interesting note to Mr. Duck's appointment is that the official announcement makes no specific mention of his current position at the Trinity Basin Charter School, but rather, notes that he is currently the CFO at a preparatory academy in Dallas. Walker is drawing from a very small network of like minded sycophants. Clearly, there are no charter school CFOs left in Wisconsin that would come within a mile of WEDC.



Correction: At Walker's Economic Disaster Corporation (WEDC), the "C" in job titles stands not for "Chief" but for "Crony."

California GOP proposes new water policy

Give all the water to the rich and wait for it will trickle down to the poor.

Shouldn't we be putting Dopamine in America's water?

Source: Current Biology


Dopamine Modulates Egalitarian Behavior in Humans

Highlights
•Dopamine is causally associated with human prosocial behavior
•Pharmacological dopamine enhancement led to prioritizing of egalitarian motives
•Computational modeling of inequity aversion captures drug-induced changes
•Results support involvement of dopamine in computing prosocial valuation signal

Summary
Egalitarian motives form a powerful force in promoting prosocial behavior and enabling large-scale cooperation in the human species . At the neural level, there is substantial, albeit correlational, evidence suggesting a link between dopamine and such behavior . However, important questions remain about the specific role of dopamine in setting or modulating behavioral sensitivity to prosocial concerns. Here, using a combination of pharmacological tools and economic games, we provide critical evidence for a causal involvement of dopamine in human egalitarian tendencies. Specifically, using the brain penetrant catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) inhibitor tolcapone , we investigated the causal relationship between dopaminergic mechanisms and two prosocial concerns at the core of a number of widely used economic games: (1) the extent to which individuals directly value the material payoffs of others, i.e., generosity, and (2) the extent to which they are averse to differences between their own payoffs and those of others, i.e., inequity. We found that dopaminergic augmentation via COMT inhibition increased egalitarian tendencies in participants who played an extended version of the dictator game . Strikingly, computational modeling of choice behavior revealed that tolcapone exerted selective effects on inequity aversion, and not on other computational components such as the extent to which individuals directly value the material payoffs of others. Together, these data shed light on the causal relationship between neurochemical systems and human prosocial behavior and have potential implications for our understanding of the complex array of social impairments accompanying neuropsychiatric disorders involving dopaminergic dysregulation.



Jackpine, please weigh in on this.
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