Posts tagged with "politics"

newsweek:

Let’s say you’re a family making $50,000, married with one child. Let’s also say you put 2 percent of your wages toward a 401(k), don’t itemize, and claim the Saver’s Credit and Child Tax Credit. This is what your tax receipt might look like. You’re paying $440 to have the finest military on the planet. You’re paying $9.59 on unemployment insurance. You’re paying $15.98 to ensure that the federal government can help you out if there’s a natural disaster that takes out your town. You’re also paying about $4,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

The Details, plus more charts: How America Pays Taxes—in 10 Not-Entirely-Depressing Charts)

If only this could be a more real thing that the government were capable of doing…

newsweek:

Let’s say you’re a family making $50,000, married with one child. Let’s also say you put 2 percent of your wages toward a 401(k), don’t itemize, and claim the Saver’s Credit and Child Tax Credit. This is what your tax receipt might look like. You’re paying $440 to have the finest military on the planet. You’re paying $9.59 on unemployment insurance. You’re paying $15.98 to ensure that the federal government can help you out if there’s a natural disaster that takes out your town. You’re also paying about $4,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

The Details, plus more charts: How America Pays Taxes—in 10 Not-Entirely-Depressing Charts)

If only this could be a more real thing that the government were capable of doing…

Apr 2

Let’s put this in some context. Here are the Roberts Court’s major campaign finance rulings in the last few years:

*2007: FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life. The Court ruled that corporations could air ads discussing candidates in the weeks before election day.
*2008: Davis v. FEC. The Court struck down the “Millionaires Amendment” to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which raised the contribution limit for candidates facing self-financed opponents.
*2010: Citizens United v. FEC. The Court ruled that corporations and unions can spend as much as they want on campaigns, giving birth to the super PAC.
* 2011: Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s FreedomClub PAC v. Bennett. The Court struck down Arizona’s public finance system, in which candidates who entered the system got matching funds if they were outspent by privately funded opponents.

Every time this Court has confronted a question of campaign finance, where there is a conflict between the freedom of wealthy donors to do as they wish on one hand and the integrity of the system on the other, it has sided with the wealthy donors. Every time.

Apr 2

The Republican members of the committee made it clear that not only do they lack the slightest interest in addressing climate change but they are about as ignorant about the nuances of science as a stone. Leading the charge was Texas congressman Randy Weber:
 
Several members, for example, appeared to be trying to mock rather than engage Holdren on climate change. “I may want to get your cellphone number, Dr. Holdren,” said Representative Randy Weber (R–TX), “because, if we go through another few cycles of global warming and cooling, I may need to ask you when I should buy my long coat on sale.”
 
Weber, a freshman from the Galveston area, began his interrogation by asking Holdren whether “when you guys do your research, you start with a scientific postulate or theory and work forward from that? Is that right?” Holdren gamely played along, explaining that “it depends on the type of science, but the notion of posing a hypothesis and then trying to determine whether it is right is one of the tried and true approaches in science, yes.”
 
But Weber’s question was really just a setup for his concluding statement. “I just don’t know how you all prove those theories going back 50 or 100,000 or even millions of years,” Weber said.

Perhaps Weber also wants to discount theories in astronomy, cosmology and paleontology? After all even those theories are based on evidence going back millions of years. I don’t know Weber’s views on evolution but I would be hardly surprised if he turns out to be in favor of “teaching the controversy”.

The House of Representatives Committee on Science is turning into a national embarrassment (via wilwheaton)

Embarrassing yes. But the bigger concern is how dangerous it is.

Apr 2

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down limits on the total amount a person can donate to various political campaigns in a single election season. However, the court left intact the limit on how much an individual can give to any single candidate.

"We conclude that the aggregate limits on contributions do not further the only governmental interest this court accepted as legitimate," said Chief Justice John Roberts, referring to a 1976 ruling. "They instead intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to express the most fundamental First Amendment activities."

The divided 5-4 ruling could have an immediate impact on November’s congressional midterm elections, and add another layer of high-stakes spending in the crowded political arena.

CNN Breaking News.

Money is not speech. The interests of a millionaire do not overlap with the interests of somebody making $40,000 a year. Allowing the millionaire to grease whatever political skids he wants, while not allowing the average joe the same opportunity, is not something our government should be enabling.

Its nice to know that companies are broke and don’t have any money because “the economy”. Except for the giving of hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative candidates to fund campaigns for the midterms this fall…they have money for that.

Feb 8

Link SB 326: Making Indiana a Front on the War on the War on Christmas

Legally, I don’t see that this legislation does any particular damage, but I guess I regard its passage as symbolically questionable.

But its one of those dumbass laws that the conservative constituents across the state will look at and go “oh dear me, my representative sure does care about us and our beliefs!”

There are times when I really hate this state as a whole.

District 69 2014 Survey Responses

Preface

A couple of weeks ago we got this survey in the mail for Indiana House District 69 (Jim Lucas). I filled it out online and took the liberty to use the comments section. I pasted my responses to a few of the questions in a Tumblr draft and am just now getting around to adding the questions and posting them up open-letter style.

Question #5: Do you support basing the funding of state universities on performance metrics or enrollment? Available Answers: A) Performance Metrics; B) Enrollment; C) Undecided.

My Answer: I don’t think funding for state universities should be based on either, at least not in how you have it phrased in this survey. University funding should be a combination of many things, and any one’s importance over the other shouldn’t be ballooned out into a litmus test of the school’s ability. Saying that they should be sounds suspiciously like saying there are under-performing universities that need to be shut down. And while that may be the case, the market for higher education and the university, NOT the state should be deciding that. As a Republican, I would expect that to be the default position. The state’s role in higher ed is to provide the funding for advancing the education of its populace, without EXPECTING a return on investment. Blaming the failings of Indiana’s economy on its education system needs to start back at the Statehouse, not with Universities.

Question #6: Do you believe the last year of high school should be spent earning college credits, training for a vocation, or taking intensive remediation courses to become college or career ready? Available Answers: A) Earning College Credits; B) Training for a vocation; C) Taking intensive remediation courses to become college or career ready

Sidebar: Does anybody else see a pattern with the available answers here?

My Answer: I think as 17-18 year olds, students should have the option to do whatever suits their ambitions the best. But I feel like we have a huge lack of guidance and counseling in our schools to present options to student bodies. And given my personal experiences, parents are more concerned about the sports programs at their school and last week’s game than what the school does to actually prepare those young adults for life or college and what their child’s ambitions are shaping to be, so how about we do something about that first, THEN see what we can do to provide a year of targeted education to satisfy the ambitions of youth. True career guidance needs to start as early as 9th grade, and not be postponed until junior or senior year.

Question #7: Do you believe Indiana, like some other states, should implement drug testing as a requirement to receving state funded welfare benefits for TANF recipients? Available Answers: A) Yes; B) No; C) Undecided.

My Answer: I’ll go along with this if we implement drug tests for things like gun permits and purchases, ammo purchases, drivers licenses, and the ability to serve (and continue to serve) in the Indiana House and Senate. Do those first, and we’ll talk about welfare.

Question #8: Under current Indiana law, the hourly wages paid to workers on taxpayer funded public works projects that cost more than $350,000 are set by a committee that includes 5 members appointed by: labor unions, merit shop contractors, and government entities. This is often referred to as the “common construction wage” or the “prevailing wage.” Would you support a law that repeals “common construction wage” requirements and allows the free market to decide what workers should be paid?” Available Answers: A) Yes; B) No; C) Undecided.

My Answer: We once had a “free market” for these kinds of labors. Do you know what the eventual response to that “market” was? THE UNIONS. Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. Then again, with Indiana’s education system falling so far from grace, it’s not hard to identify the root of that problem.

Question #9: Expanding Medicaid under Obamacare to cover individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level would cost Hoosier taxpayers nearly $2 billion over the next seven years according to independent actuaries hired by the State. Do you support expanding Medicaid in Indiana? Available Answers: A) Yes; B) No; C) Undecided.

My Answer: There hasn’t been one single person I have met in this state who, when given the actual text of the law and the legitimate numbers THAT WE KNOW and aren’t the result of some fictional formula that nobody dares to open up, who still says they don’t support the ACA and Medicaid expansion in Indiana. The only people who refuse to accept it are those too ignorant to listen or too entrenched on ideological or prejudicial grounds. Will the ACA work? Perhaps not. But neither did the previous system, and it was getting worse with terrifying speed. Demanding the “right” solution or “your” solution only works when you can demonstrably say you have a better solution. Slinging mud now against a law that:

  • passed 3 years ago
  • survived a review by the Supreme Court
  • survived an election cycle

only serves to make you (and your cohorts, and by extension the entire state) look petty and ridiculous on the national stage. We had no problem sending/losing money and blood to Iraq for {insert reason here}. Lets send and lose some money here on our populace and try to improve the quality of life for some people.

Nov 6

Why You Need To Care About The Drug War

letterstomycountry:

Your ass literally depends on it:

[The incident] began January 2, 2013 after David Eckert finished shopping at the Wal-Mart in Deming.  According to a federal lawsuit, Eckert didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign coming out of the parking lot and was immediately stopped by law enforcement.    

Eckert’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks.  Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity.  While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.  

Here is what happened to David Eckert after he was taken to a hospital by police to search him for drugs:

1. Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.  

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.  

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema.  Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers.  Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool.  No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time.  Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers.  Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool.  No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time.  Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers.  Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool.  No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.  

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines.  No narcotics were found.  

 This is outrageous.  No decent human being should tolerate this sort of behavior.  If the allegations in the complaint are true, then every officer involved with this search should be fired and charged with assault.

There is no possible justification for taking a search this far.  This is quite possibly one of the most invasive Searches and Seizures I’ve ever seen.  It is unprofessional, disgusting, and unconstitutional.  Not to mention based on the flimsiest probable cause I’ve ever seen ginned up by law enforcement.  Three enemas guys?  Really?

Lest there be any question about the ugliness of this particular search & seizure, the first hospital the police took Eckert to refused to perform the search because they felt it was unethical.  So they took him to a second hospital which was located in another county.  Unfortunately, that means it was outside the scope of the warrant, and making these searches illegal.  

One of two things happened here: either the officers involved realized they made a mistake after the initial cavity search, got scared, and started trying to run as many tests as possible to find something—anything—that they could arrest this guy for.  Alternatively, they were so convinced of their own authority (and of Eckert’s deviance) that they couldn’t admit to themselves that he was clean.  That he was an ordinary, innocent person just like you and me.

But this is the Modus Operandi of drug enforcement.  How many times have you failed to obey a traffic law?  How many stop signs have you failed to come to a complete stop for?  How many times have you sped up for a yellow light that turned red a second before you made it through the intersection?  How many times have you turned without using your signal?  Or switched lanes over a solid line because you didn’t want to miss an exit?  Or veered onto the shoulder while making a turn so you could make the turn more smoothly?

This could have happened to anyone.  David Eckert was not a drug dealer, or a gang member, or whatever other degenerate label you want to throw at him.  He was a normal person, doing something that millions of people do every day: shopping and lazily obeying traffic laws.  For his “sins,” he endured endless humiliation, embarrassment, emotional, mental, and physical trauma.

This is not the first time that police have engaged in shocking behavior to find evidence of drug possession.  Imagine a world in which the drugs that these police were allegedly searching for were completely legal.  Whatever weak justifications the police had for hungrily probing Eckert’s anal cavity suddenly fall by the wayside  The incentives for making these drug arrests disappear.  The quotas disappear.  And police become more concerned about violent crime than probing our butts for evidence of illegal drug activity.

In a world where we continue to treat drug use as a criminal offense rather than a public health issue, this will continue to occur.  Everybody is at risk of having their car stopped, and enduring David Eckert’s nightmare.  Imagine having to explain to your spouse and kids why you were late coming home that evening.  What would you even say?  You can’t even tell young children about half the stuff that was done to Eckert in the name of finding illegal drugs.  

And it could have happened to any one of us.

 

Link NYT: For Many Hard-Liners, Debt Default Is the Goal

> Far from seeing it as potentially catastrophic, many on the right consider a default on the federal debt inevitable and salutary as a step toward smaller government, and have been saying so for years, an economist writes.

The shortsightedness (and xenophobia) of these theories is astounding…

To those complaining that I’m posting about politics: I’d love for the U.S. political environment to return to a state where I can just do my job and ignore it.