Archives for January 2012
I like to think that while I am a very well informed person when it comes to US political news, I generally remain somewhat detached regarding what the latest artificially created crisis du jour facing the nation is. I find that regardless of what dire consequence both sides try to convince us will happen if the other side gets their way, life goes on, business as usual for the rest of us, and inevitably some compromise is reached which allows both sides to claim victory. It is a cycle I’ve seen play out so many times in my relatively short time on Earth that I find it quite comical. However, I do find my blood pressure rise ever so slightly when contemplating the mismanagement and lack of leadership in energy policy in this country. The recent Keystone XL Pipeline debacle is a perfect example of how DC politicians chose to put political posturing ahead of US energy security, national security and true environmental policy.
Virginia State Senator David Englin has introduced a bill that would establish an eight member subcommittee to study the impact of marijuana legalization in the Commonwealth:
In conducting its study, the joint subcommittee shall examine the feasibility and practicality of selling marijuana under the restrictions and conditions as allowed by law, the impact of these sales in Virginia’s ABC stores and on its patrons, as well as the potential revenue impact upon the Commonwealth.
The proposal is likely ill-fated in a legislature that seems poised to reject Governor McDonnell’s ABC privatization plan. However, given that privatization is largely being scrapped due to the revenue it produces for the state, Englin’s bill may yet have a slim lifeline if he can promote it on fiscal grounds and equate the possible benefits to those reaped from the recent record liquor profits. Still, it will be a tough sell to socially conservative Republicans who oppose legalization on a merely personal basis.
In late 2010, Englin expressed his openness to ABC privatization:
Given the increasingly bitter political environment of the past year, it’s refreshing to have a policy debate in Richmond where Republicans and Democrats generally agree: Philosophically, hardly anyone, including me, believes that selling liquor should be a core service of government.
We all know that Mitt Romney’s heath insurance reform plan, the centerpiece of which was the individual mandate, became the blueprint for ObamaCare. This source of much skepticism from conservatives and the Tea Party movement, and rightfully so.
For all of his faults, Romney isn’t the only Republican running to push for punitive taxes for those who haven’t purchased health insurance coverage.In fact, when Romney introduced the plan in 2005, the Boston Herald noted that Romney was “allying himself with influential conservatives such as former US House speaker Newt Gingrich, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation.”
The implication here is that Romney was coming to an idea that Gingrich was already backing (note the archived footage from 1993 in the video below). And it’s apparently one that Gingrich still holds. During his ill-fated interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press last May, Gingrich made it clear that he’s “said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you’re going to be held accountable”:
There are certainly a plethora of good arguments for state rights, federalism, and transferring more powers to the states vis-a-vis the federal govenrment. There are also a few bad ones.
T. Kurt Jaros at Values & Capitalism argues that the “Incorporation Doctrine”—making the Bill of Rights legally binding upon state governments—goes too far, and harms religious freedoms:
Prior to the twentieth century, the Supreme Court explicitly believed that the Bill of Rights was limited to the federal government and not the states. This is evident in Barron v. Baltimore (1833). Chief Justice John Marshall believed the Bill of Rights “contain(s) no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them.” Thus, the Bill of Rights (believe it or not) did not restrict what States could do, such as limiting speech, behavior, or expression of religion.
United States v. Cruishank (1876) also confirmed this view. This understanding is the only way to understand why it is the Supreme Court never took up ideas like prayer in school, whether or not a valedictorian could mention Jesus in a speech or if cheerleaders could hold up Bible verses during a football game. The simple fact is, they knew it was not the federal government’s role (as described in the Constitution). After all, the first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means the federal government was going to stay neutral.
After going through the security checkpoint at Nashville International Airpoint, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was detained by TSA officers for refusing an invasive pat-down after some sort of irregularity in his full-body scan:
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s press secretary Moira Bagley tweeted on Monday that Transportation Security Administration officials were detaining her boss in Nashville, Tenn.
“Just got a call from @senrandpaul,” Bagley tweeted at about 10 a.m. on Monday. “He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”
Texas Congressman and current Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul – Sen. Rand Paul’s father – placed a post on Facebook about the news as well. “My son Rand is currently being detained by the TSA at the Nashville Airport,” Ron Paul posted. “I’ll share more details as the situation unfolds.”
Ron Paul adds, via Twitter, that the TSA detained his son “for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner.”
Sen. Rand Paul’s Facebook page has a post about the incident too. “Senator Paul is being detained at the Nashville Airport by the TSA,” Sen. Rand Paul’s Facebook post reads. “We will update you as the situation develops.”
This has already been all over Twitter and Facebook this morning and now traditional media is picking it up as well. Sen. Paul apparently asked to go back through the full-body scanner, but TSA refused and was then held.
All of us saw Saturday night the blowout win that was delivered to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. According to the final results, as reported by Google:
- Gingrich — 40.4% (243,153)
- Romney — 27.8% (167,279)
- Santorum — 17.0% (102,055)
- Paul — 13.0% (77,993)
This is definitely a smashing win for Gingrich, a huge setback for Romney, and a new period of turmoil for the GOP presidential nomination race. Never before have three different candidates won Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The race, once believed to be wrapped up by mid-February, might continue into March or April, or even later. And so all the blogs are saying.
But when I look at the results of the South Carolina primary, all I can ask myself is, “Has the Republican Party jumped the shark?”
TVTropes Wiki, a website devoted to stories, defines “jumping the shark”* as:
the moment when an established show changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it’s all downhill.
I have to wonder if this is the fate that is falling upon the Republican Party.
Call it election year politics, but it sounds like something right out of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Democrats are again targeting oil companies by pushing a so-called “Reasonable Profits Board” to regulate their profits:
Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits.
The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.
The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.
The bill would also seem to exclude industry representatives from the board, as it says members “shall have no financial interests in any of the businesses for which reasonable profits are determined by the Board.”
This is the lesson to take away from South Carolina. Newt Gingrich is the Republican Obama. GOP voters, you have jumped the shark.
Edit: Looks like this is from the RevolutionPAC. Just as a disclaimer.
Welcome to United Liberty’s coverage of the South Carolina primary. We were anticipating an interesting day between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, but polls have showed movement in recent days. It looks like Gingrich will win the state this evening by a decent margin, despite some bad press in the last 72 hours.
You can track results from the Palmetto State here.
From the LA Times:
No longer can the students discuss Chicano perspectives on history. And no longer can Martinez teach Mexican American studies.
After the Tucson Unified School District board voted late Tuesday to suspend the controversial classes to avoid losing more than $14 million in state aid, the students’ world shifted.
Course titles and curriculums changed immediately. Chicano history became American history. Chicano literature became English literature.
State law bans classes that are primarily designed for a particular ethnic group or that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.” Last week, state Supt. of Public Instruction John Huppenthal ruled the Tucson program in violation. The board chose not to contest his decision in court.
Proponents say the classes push Latinos to excel and teach a long-neglected slice of America’s cultural heritage — Latino perspectives on literature, history and social justice.
But its critics, led by Huppenthal, say framing historical events in racial terms “to create a sense of solidarity” promotes groupthink and victimhood.
Teaching history without the history of ethnic groups is unavoidable. Teaching history without the history of victimization is unavoidable. Teaching history without the history of victimization of ethnic groups is certainly unavoidable, given that large swaths of history are comprised almost entirely of some form of ethnic and/or racial oppression (a history that continues to be written to this day). In fact, teaching history as such is to alter the past itself.