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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,555

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Let's clarify something about the Chick-A-Fil-A hubub: It has not been banned anywhere

In another thread here on DU, and last night on Facebook, I've seen people expressing concern about the possibility that a single mayor or alderman can make a decision about whether to "ban" a particular business from operating. If, in fact, that were what was going on in the case of Chick-A-Fil-A, it would indeed be alarming. But that is not what's happening here.

No mayor, councilman or alderman anywhere in the country has the legal authority to ban an otherwise legal (even if offensive) business from operating, provided that business is in compliance with all pertinent local laws, ordinances and administrative regulations. What's more, Mayor Menino of Boston, as well as the other mayors and council members/aldermen in other cities who have written similar letters telling Chick-A-Fil-A its business was unwelcome in their particular city, are all well aware of the fact that they do not possess such authority, and are under no illusions that they can, in fact, ban Chick-A-Fil-A from operating. And Chick-A-Fil-A's owners (or at least their corporate lawyers) know this as well. But that's not the purpose of sending those letters. The purpose of sending those letters, and making the fact that they were sent very public, is primarily for the purpose of galvanizing community support for calling out the company's habit of funding abhorrent causes. They are using the bully pulpit in order to help create social pressure for positive change. There is nothing unprecedented or improper about this. It is political grandstanding to be sure, but occasional grandstanding in the service of a worthy goal can be a useful and valuable tool.
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jul 31, 2012, 06:13 PM (2 replies)

Here is the stipulation in which PA admits there are NO cases of voter fraud requiring voter ID laws

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jul 26, 2012, 02:06 AM (0 replies)

Abuse of alert system?

I am one who thinks that overall the jury system is a good idea. But I have participated on several juries recently where the alert seemed to be little more than an attempt to stifle the expression of an opinion with which the alerter happened to disagree. I don't really know what the solution might be here, but just wanted to point out what I have observed of late.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 25, 2012, 08:33 PM (12 replies)

Romney in 2002: Opponent can’t claim disclosure until she discloses husband's tax returns

[font size = 5]Romney campaign in 2002: Opponent “can’t claim to be disclosing anything until she discloses the returns of her husband.”[/font]

How many times a day do we ask Willard Romney to release his tax returns?

And how many times a day do we catch Willard Romney being a liar and/or a hypocrite? The quote by Eric “Etch A Sketch” Ferhnstrom in the blog headline is from an April 2002 piece at Highbeam Business. Our buddy Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed found it:

But in 2002, during his first run for Governor Romney attacked his opponent Shannon O’Brien for not releasing her husband’s tax returns. [...]

The Romney campaign accused O’Brien, who released her tax returns every year since 1998, of being disingenuous by releasing her but not her husband’s returns, a former lobbyist who had worked with Enron.

More at: http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/2012/07/17/romney-campaign-in-2002-opponent-cant-claim-to-be-disclosing-anything-until-she-discloses-the-returns-of-her-husband/
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jul 19, 2012, 04:07 PM (2 replies)

Time to demand a nationwide reform of police standards of conduct

Today we've seen two more horrifying stories (http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=928264 and http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002929988), among how many others in recent months and years, of wanton police brutality of the sort that seems to have metastasized across the country.

Look, I have a couple of members of my own extended family who are law enforcement officers, so it certainly is not my desire to see the job of police made more difficult than it already is. But in the security hysteria that has been the legacy of 9/11 (and, I would argue, that has been the terrorists' ultimate victory), we have allowed our domestic police organizations to become increasingly, and excessively, militarized. We permitted the Bush Administration, with help from both parties, to pass the Patriot Act -- the most sweeping assault on our civil liberties since Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (and the biggest boondoggle for profiteering by the security industry). The Department of Homeland [In]Security has showered local police forces with expensive new toys that heretofore would ONLY have been considered for use on a battlefield, or by some rogue, police state. (To those wingnuts who have been breathlessly carrying on about some imagined threat to freedom posed by the Affordable Care Act, if it truly is freedom they are truly concerned about, then THIS is the issue they should be focusing on with laser-like intensity!)

It has long been known that certain jobs or professions, in particular those jobs in which the jobholder is vested by society with an especially high level of trust and authority (be that authority moral, intellectual, spiritual, legal or physical) over others, will attract a higher percentage of persons who seek out the job because they wish to exploit that trust and authority than will jobs that do not vest such authority. Not to say the vast majority aren't decent folks, but merely by virtue of the fact that such positions do grant such trust and authority to those who hold them, there will be a higher than usual number who seek such jobs for the wrong reason. Those who would be spiritually or emotionally abusive or domineering of others will try to secure jobs that vest them with both the community's trust and some level of spiritual or intellectual authority over the person they wish to dominate (jobs such as counselors, or sometimes clergy). Pedophiles will look for positions in which they have access to and authority over their would be victims, as well as a degree of trust from the people who care for those potential victims. And those who get their kicks over sheer physical dominance over persons who are effectively powerless to resist -- that is to say, sadists and bullies -- will look for jobs in things like law enforcement.

IN virtually all of these jobs/professions other than law enforcement, however, it is incumbent upon the gatekeepers of those fields to do their level best to try to spot those who are looking primarily to exploit the authority of the job, and to screen them out of such positions. Education majors who are found to be temperamentally unsuited to a classroom will, if their college's education faculty has any sense of professionalism, be steered into other courses of study. Most of the major Christian denominations (not speaking here of the Roman Catholic Church, in which all bets are off) now have quite rigorous psychological screening processes in place for those who seek to be pastors/priests. Psychotherapists are required, as a condition of remaining psychotherapists, to be in psychotherapy themselves. And if some psychosocial pathology emerges after such folks are in such professions, there are institutions and mechanisms which are expected to investigate, discipline and if need be eliminate such folks from their ranks. Yet, when it comes to law enforcement, while there is a rigorous background check and some level of psychological screening, provided nothing becomes apparent at that time, once they're in, they're in. If psycho/social aberrations appear after an officer is on the force, for the most part, the "blue wall of silence" will shield that officer from accountability for all but the most extreme and egregious forms of misconduct. And even then, the deference many folks instinctively accord to law enforcement can make it difficult to obtain convictions when misconduct is prosecuted.

In our collective capitulation to fear in the wake of 9/11, we extended to law enforcement an even greater degree of unquestioning trust than the already considerable amount they already had. And, like most decisions made in the heat of passion or panic, a decision that seemed to some to make sense at the time was, in the long run, unwise and extremely short-sighted. It is time to demand a nationwide reform of police practices and to institute a uniform, strict standard with respect to standards of professionalism and to the uses, and the circumstances of use, of both coercive and deadly force. In addition, there should be a uniform standard of accountability to those standards. And for the foreseeable future, until the new standards of professionalism and conduct are fully enculturated in law enforcement agencies throughout the country, police officers need to be kept on a very short leash with respect to their use of force against citizens. Police have frankly done a dismal job of policing their own ranks, so it is time for their employers -- that is to say, the rest of us -- to impose new standards of professional accountability within those ranks.

The ratcheting up of tension in citizen/police encounters has been driven almost entirely by law enforcement. When even the most routine encounters are approached with guns blazing and on highest alert, then of course there will be more situations where this hair-trigger mentality leads to an unwarranted and avoidable use of force. Police officers should certainly be permitted to take reasonable steps to ensure their own safety during these encounters, but what definition of "reasonable" is reasonable? I fail to see how escalating maximum intensity even the slightest hint of protest or noncompliance with an officer's order can be construed to be reasonably necessary to protect an officer's personal safety. And I don't accept the notion that police have an inherent right to protect themselves against any conceivable threat in advance, irrespective of how remote that threat might be. There will always be some risk involved in being a police officer. And on occasion, some officers will make the ultimate sacrifice. Sorry, but you signed up for a heightened degree of risk when you became a police officer in the first place.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 11, 2012, 05:18 PM (3 replies)

Joe.My.God: 60 House Democrats Fail To Sign On To Court Challenge To Overturn DOMA

Fucking cowards or closeted bigots -- take your pick.

[font size = 5]60 House Democrats Fail To Sign On To Court Challenge To Overturn DOMA[/font]

< . . . >

Chris Geidner reports at Buzzfeed:

One third of House Democrats broke with their leaders today and kept their names off a brief urging a federal appeals court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits federal recognition of marriages to those between one man and one woman. The majority of Democrats joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's argument, which her office described in a news release as "the Democratic Members' brief," but the break among Democrats offers a glimpse at remaining divisions inside the party. Pelosi, joined by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and 130 other House Democrats, told the federal appeals court in California that they believe Karen Golinski should succeed in her lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA's federal definition of "marriage" and "spouse."

Full article, plus a list of the hate perpetuators, at: http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2012/07/60-house-democrats-fail-to-sign-on-to.html
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:20 AM (23 replies)

AP: Episcopal bishops OK trial gay blessing prayer [and pave way for ordination of trans-gendered]

Sometimes, WASPs actually get it! Thank you, Your Graces!

[font size=5]Episcopal bishops OK trial gay blessing prayer[/font]
[font size=3]By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer – 12 minutes ago [/font]

Episcopal bishops approved an official prayer service for blessing same-sex couples Monday at a national convention that also cleared the way for transgender ordination.

At the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis, the House of Bishops voted 111-41, with three abstentions, to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. The liturgy next goes to convention's deputies for their authorization.

In a separate vote Monday, the full convention approved new anti-discrimination language for transgendered clergy candidates and church members. Some dioceses already ordain transgendered people or elect them to positions of parish leadership. However, advocates for the amendment argued they needed an explicit statement of acceptance as the churchwide policy.

< . . . >

The official liturgy for same-sex blessings has been in development since 2009, when it was authorized by the last General Convention. Some bishops had already developed rites for the ceremonies for use in their own dioceses. If the deputies approve the proposal before them in Indianapolis, it will be the first such official prayer for use by the entire church.

< . . . >

Read full article at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gB_rtzw1lgPEA2WxPhozFYOdhDFw?docId=2af91084840747ea9a2eb7853913e64e
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jul 9, 2012, 10:10 PM (1 replies)

Funniest comment yet heard regarding Anderson Cooper -- and it wasn't even a snark!

I had to share this brief exchange I had with a couple of friends on Facebook regarding the "news" that Anderson Cooper had officially come out.

FRIEND #1: So, to play Devil's advocate for moment, how is anything changed by this news?

ME: Hard to say, specifically, although I can only think it will boost his journalistic credibility if he is not seen as purposefully hiding this aspect of himself. Although, if he really wants to boost his journalistic cred, he should consider leaving CNN (but that's another discussion).

FRIEND #2: Yeah, but right now, Cooper is the only thing holding it all together over there. I mean, is it fair if Atlas shrugs?

At which point I promptly showered my monitor with the soda I had just taken a sip of.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jul 2, 2012, 03:56 PM (2 replies)

FORBES: Don't Buy The GOP Narrative That Obamacare Is A Tax On Middle Class (Important Distinction)

This article, now appearing in Forbes, points out a very important distinction that must be made concerning the Supreme Court's decision:

[font size=5]Don't Buy The GOP Narrative That Obamacare Is A Tax On Middle Class-It's A Lie Designed To Mislead[/font]

<. . . >

In the opening paragraphs of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion, he clarifies that the law specifically does not involve a tax. If it did, Roberts clarifies, the Court would have had no choice but to reject the case for lack of jurisdiction as a tax case cannot be brought until someone is actually forced to pay the tax. This is, as we know, not the case.

The fact that the Court found that the mandate was constitutional under the taxing authority granted Congress by the Constitution is an entirely different matter. This finding does not reduce the individual mandate to the status of a tax—it merely says that as the penalty for failing to purchase health insurance will fall to the Internal Revenue Service for collection, it was something Congress could provide for under its Constitutional authority.

While I grant you that this gets a bit into the weeds, the effort that is being made by the GOP to use the Court’s basis for decision as a weapon fails on its face and is completely disingenuous. There is a difference between the levying of a tax and the Court finding Constitutional authority for Congress under the taxing authority. But then, anything that is more complicated than your basic “See Spot Run” first grade reading primer has always been fair game and fodder for the GOP message machine which would prefer to base their arguments on misstatements than educating and enlightening its base.

Full article at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/06/28/dont-buy-the-gop-narrative-that-obamacare-is-a-tax-on-middle-class-its-a-lie-designed-to-mislead/

I would add that this is much like penalties assessed on people who fail to timely file tax returns. Such penalties are not taxes, per se, but the authority to assess those penalties arises directly from Congress' authority to tax.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Jul 1, 2012, 10:22 PM (8 replies)
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