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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 5,660

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From Federal District Judge John E. Jones III's decision overturning PA's marriage ban

I highly recommend taking the time to read Federal Judge John E. Jones III's decision striking down Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban. The Judge very carefully dismantles every one of the Commonwealth's arguments defending the ban. (A link to the full decision is provided below.) Then the Judge concludes with the following two, very eloquent paragraphs:

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal." See Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), overruling Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). In the sixty years since Brown was decided, "separate" has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.

Bravo, your Honor, bravo!

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed May 21, 2014, 01:35 AM (2 replies)

NY Post: The 9/11 museumís absurd gift shop

(Note: I had no idea the 9-11 Museum at Ground Zero would include, of all things, a damned GIFT SHOP! It's hawking mostly NYPD-, Port Authorit6y Police- and NYFD-branded trinkets and items of clothing, or items bearing the kind of cheap consolation of the greeting card industry. It is fitting that a 9-11 Memorial Museum exist at Ground Zero. But if it is fitting to have a memorial and/or museum to commemorate a national tragedy that had enormous impact upon the country as a whole, then it is equally fitting that federal revenues should be used to operate it and sustain it to the extent admissions fees fail to cover expenses. This is just in outrageously offensive bad taste! And if even the New York Post is offended by it, that should really tell you something!)

The 9/11 museumís absurd gift shop
By Susan Edelman May 18, 2014 | 4:54am

< . . . . >

The 9/11 museumís cavernous boutique offers a vast array of souvenir goods. For example: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts ($22) and caps ($19.95); earrings molded from leaves and blossoms of downtown trees ($20 to $68); cop and firefighter charms by Pandora and other jewelers ($65); ďUnited We StandĒ blankets.

There are bracelets, bowls, buttons, mugs, mousepads, magnets, key chains, flags, pins, stuffed animals, toy firetrucks, cellphone cases, tote bags, books and DVDs.
Modal Trigger

You can pick up an assortment of oak leaf jewelry at the 9/11 museum gift shop.Photo: Sue Edelman

Even FDNY vests for dogs come in all sizes.

After paying $24 admission for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $15 for kids 7 to 17, visitors can shop till they drop.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Sun May 18, 2014, 11:39 PM (15 replies)

Uh, oh! I think I know what happened to those 30 million people 'missing' from Op. Am. Spring . . .

Clearly, there is only one possible answer to why 30 million people mysteriously failed to show up at "Operation American Spring." Think about it, there's only one possible explanation:

Clearly, what obviously happened is that those 30 million folks were raptured, and all the rest of us have been consigned the fate of 'Left Behinds.' (Calling Tim LeHaye . . . )

If you happen to know any of these 'Left Behind' Tea Party types, you should probably be very careful in how, exactly, you break the news to them that they didn't make the cut. Just my advice . . .

Posted by markpkessinger | Sat May 17, 2014, 11:29 PM (32 replies)

About young Mr. Fortgang (the Pirnceton "privelege" kid) . . .

Blogger Ari Kohen has written a an excellent installment on this topic. But wherever you stand on the substantive question of White privilege, before you jump to defend young Mr. Fortgang, who told the NY Times he didn't "have a racist bone in (his) body," you might want to take a look at some of his past tweets. Fortgang has deleted his Twitter account, but he wasn't quick enough on the draw for blogger Matt Binder, who made screen captures of them:

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun May 11, 2014, 06:36 PM (16 replies)

The NY Times' Adam Liptak: False Equivalence Monger

On edit: I originally stated that my comment had not yet been published. It now has been published, so the text below is edited accordingly.

There is a column by Adam Liptak in today's Times, titled, "The Polarized Court" (excerpt appears at the end of my comments below). Liptak blathers on about the 'polarization' of the Supreme Court and points out that it reflects a similar polarization in the electorate. Yet, to read the article, one would think that the two parties had moved in opposite directions, when in fact both moved in the same direction: one party by a radically large degree, the other by s smaller degree. But there is NO discussion of the fact that to the extent polarization has occurred, it has occurred as a result of the GOP shifting radically rightward. To the extent Democrats have moved, it has also been (sadly enough), to the right also. Here is the text of a comment I just posted to the piece.

Mark P. Kessinger
I wonder if perhaps Mr. Liptak has been spending a bit too much time inside the Beltway of late, for he seems to have succumbed to a certain malady that affects many pundits and journalists who spend too much time there: False Equivalence Syndrome. To speak of our politics as merely being "polarized," without mention of the very significant rightward shift of our entire political spectrum over the last 33 years is to miss what has really been going on, and suggests, incorrectly, that the two parties have moved in opposite directions.

What has happened, though, is that the Republican Party, beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and continuing to the present day, has moved radically to the right, abandoning a middle ground on many issues on which there had previously been, if not full agreement on how to address issues, at least a broad consensus on what the issues were and the importance of addressing them -- things such as public education, a robust social safety net, and at least nominal support for organized labor. The broad center, comprised of Democrats and Republicans alike, did not demonize government. But Reagan, with his "Government is the problem" mantra, changed that. That was the point of departure.

Sadly, Democrats moved to the right as well. So it is hardly adequate to speak of 'polarization' when one party has moved radically to the right, and the other closer to the center.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The Polarized Court

MAY 10, 2014

WASHINGTON ó WHEN the Supreme Court issued its latest campaign finance decision last month, the justices lined up in a familiar way. The five appointed by Republican presidents voted for the Republican National Committee, which was a plaintiff. The four appointed by Democrats dissented.

That 5-to-4 split along partisan lines was by contemporary standards unremarkable. But by historical standards it was extraordinary. For the first time, the Supreme Court is closely divided along party lines.

The partisan polarization on the court reflects similarly deep divisions in Congress, the electorate and the elite circles in which the justices move.

The deep and often angry divisions among the justices are but a distilled version of the way American intellectuals ó at think tanks and universities, in opinion journals and among the theorists and practitioners of law and politics ó have separated into two groups with vanishingly little overlap or interaction. It is a recipe for dysfunction.

< . . . .>

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun May 11, 2014, 01:34 PM (4 replies)

"Ain't it a pretty night . . ."

My brother-in-law snapped this photo of the night sky over my hometown of Beech Creek, PA. It brought to mind immediatly an aria, titled, "Ain't it a Pretty Night," from the opera, "Susannah," by American composer Carlisle Floyd. Here are the lyrics, and elow them is a link to a recording of the aria sung by soprano Mary Mills, from a production by the Philadelphia Opera:

Ain't it a pretty night!
The sky's so dark an' velvet-like, and it's all lit up with stars.
It's like a great big mirror reflectin' fireflies over a pond.
Look at all them stars, Little Bat! The longer y'look, the more y'see.
The sky seems so heavy with stars that it might fall right out of heaven
an' cover us all up in one big blanket of velvet all stitched with diamon's.

Ain't it a pretty night!
Just think, those stars can all peep down an' see way beyond where we can:
they can see way beyond them mountains
to Nashville an' Ashville an' Knoxville.
I wonder what it's like out there, out there beyond them mountains,
where the folks talk nice, an' the folks dress nice,
like y'see in the mail order catalogs.
I aim to leave this valley some day an' find out fer myself:
to see all the tall buildin's and all the street lights
an' be one o' them folks myself.

I wonder if I'd get lonesome fer the valley, though,
fer the sound of crickets an' the smell of pine straw,
fer soft little rabbits an' bloomin' things
an' the mountains turnin' gold in the fall.
But I could always come back if I got homesick for the valley.
So I'll leave it someday an' see fer myself.
Someday I'll leave an' then I'll come back
when I've seen what's beyond them mountains.

Ain't it a pretty night!
The sky's so heavy with stars tonight
that it could fall right down out of heaven
an' cover us up, an' cover us up
in one big blanket of velvet and diamon's.

Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Apr 26, 2014, 04:49 PM (0 replies)

The Teabonics Hall Of Fame ó 60 Iconic Misspelled Protest Signs (PHOTOS)

The Teabonics Hall Of Fame ó 60 Iconic Misspelled Protest Signs (PHOTOS)

By Tiffany Willis on April 15, 2014

One of the biggest fails of the Tea Party movement has been their epic misspellings on protest signs. We arenít sure whatís up with that. Are their kids making the signs for them? Are they writing them in haste and canít take the time to spell correctly or use correct grammar? Either way, itís hilarious. Here is the Tea Party Protest Sign Hall of Fame.

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< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Apr 15, 2014, 11:29 AM (18 replies)

So the President is allowing the CIA to take the lead in declassifying the Senate Report . . .

. . . what could possibly go wrong?
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Apr 8, 2014, 07:50 PM (5 replies)

My response to one NY Times reader regarding the Supreme Court . . .

In the comments to an editorial in today's New York Times titled, "The Court Follows the Money," one reader wrote:

< . . . . >

If reform is impossible, then a revolution is needed. What kind of revolution? How to proceed? Many paths are possible, none are easy. Let me suggest two places we might start.

First, stop voting. At the least, never again vote for the lesser of two evils. Again, if the system is irredeemable, then the sooner it fully breaks, the better off we will be in the long term. Working for the election of Democrats leads to nothing but heartbreak. That energy is better spent elsewhere. The more the tea-party and like minded elements succeed, the quicker the collapse of the system will arrive. Scarry? You bet.

< . . . . >

I couldn't let that one stand. Here was my response (which has not yet posted to the site):

Terence Stoeckert advises: "First, stop voting. At the least, never again vote for the lesser of two evils."

If we stop voting, we play into the oligarchs' hands -- so that suggestion is possibly the worst advice one could possibly give.

As for voting for the "lesser of two evils" ("LTE"), while LTE voting my well be worthy of criticism, I would remind you that this ruling did NOT come about as a result of voters choosing between the lesser of two evils. All five of the justices who voted to overturn the aggregate contribution limits in McCutcheon were nominated by presidents of ONE of the two parties: the GOP, and ALL FOUR who dissented were nominated by Democratic Presidents. Similarly, in Citizens United, the SAME FIVE JUSTICES were in the majority, three of the dissenters were nominated by Democrats and one, Justice Stevens, was a liberal Republican nominated by Gerald Ford.

Whatever criticism one may have of Presidents Clinton and Obama, it was the Justices they nominated who did NOT stand with the majority in this case. And it was the Justices nominated by Reagan, Bush I and Bush II that WERE the majority. But that probably doesn't sit well with your "both aprties are the same" narrative, does it?

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Apr 3, 2014, 08:45 AM (68 replies)

Text of Justice Breyer's blistering dissent

I have extracted Justice Breyer's dissent from the decision and have made it available on my Google drive, for anyone who might be interested in reading it:

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Apr 2, 2014, 06:20 PM (11 replies)
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