From the San Antonio Express-News
SAN ANTONIO — A Republican hopeful for the U.S. Senate who used a racial slur to describe undocumented immigrants has defended the language as “normal” in South Texas.
Chris Mapp, a Port O'Connor businessman, stood by his comments that “wetbacks” should be shot by ranchers and that President Barack Obama is a “socialist son of a bitch” — remarks that have created a national stir among both parties.
- More -
From the Daily Journal, Park Hills, MO:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri House panel has once again rejected Gov. Jay Nixon's call to expand Medicaid for about 300,000 people.
The House health and social services funding panel voted 11-4 Monday to defeat two attempts to insert the money into the next state budget that begins in July.
- More -
What's the most boring thing imaginable?
Watching paint dry? Watching grass grow? Waiting for the History Channel to show history?
How about a news account of a series of meetings by a group of economists?
Except this group of economists is staggering like an inebriated passenger stumbling toward an airplane propeller. The propeller is what we now know as the economic crisis of 2008. Their combination of innate cluelessness and lack of information combines with our ability to see things retrospectively to form a horror show of policy.
It's like watching a television drama with little kids playing with dynamite and matches. You hold your breath, knowing this won't be good.
Every year the Federal Reserve releases transcripts from the year completed 5 years before. That puts us to 2008. Hundreds of pages of talk are now in the public domain.
People like me have trouble remembering what we had for breakfast. I still have to stop myself from putting a date from the wrong millennium on checks. But there are time periods I remember with some clarity: The first Kennedy assassination in 1963, the killings of King and Kennedy in 1968, the Nixon resignation of 1974.
And, of course, the financial collapse of 2008. The details were hazy at the time. Confusing data points were combined with the crash and near-crash of major financial houses.
The Fed meets 8 times a year. That year, they met 14 times: the 8 regularly scheduled meetings and 6 additional emergency meetings. Some were face-to-face, others were conference calls.
News summaries of the transcripts reflect a bewilderment that measures to combat economic collapse weren't working.
Part of the problem was that generations of Fed concerns had gone from preventing depression to damping down inflation. Remarkably, inflation was the major concern that kept coming up during all but the latest months of the crisis.
Someone did a word search. Until Financial Institutions actually began collapsing, the word "inflation" was mentioned as a concern 30 times as much as the word "crisis."
In fact, the shrinking of the economy was not recognized as all that serious at first. One Fed member didn't bother with an early meeting. Too busy skiing.
Good information couldn't be gotten. Economic data still takes time to compile into anything accurate and comprehensible, even to experts. The Fed was always a few months behind.
Still, the Fed reluctantly applied remedies they had never tried before. They finally reduced interest rates so low the difference between the new rate and zero is hardly worth noting.
The crisis centered around an unprecedented slowdown in the economy.
The economic crash had to impact on politics, of course. As we might expect, the uncertainty overlapped as well.
As President Obama took office, he got stunning news. The economic slowdown had been revised. It was not a slowdown at all. The economy was shrinking.
The damage was startling. The economy was actually shrinking at a rate of 3.8 percent per year. It was hard to think of the American economy shrinking at all, much less at a rate that was more than 3%.
As the new President took office, a stimulus program was proposed, then reduced, then reduced again, as "centrist" Democrats and "moderate" Republicans wavered, and pushed for a compromise in size.
I think everybody understands that the 50 billion dollars at least probably is the number of the kinds of things that needs to be cut out of this bill to get broad bipartisan support.
- Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), February 4, 2009
Even now, Republicans ignore the economic data and the reductions in the recovery efforts. They still speak of a "failed stimulus" program.
Five years later, underemployment is still too high, the number of people that have dropped out of the workforce is astounding, unemployment remains stubbornly high and our economy isn’t growing fast enough.
- Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 17, 2014
What will not be seen in the 2008 transcripts are the final revised figures. They didn't come in until the following year. After the stimulus was put into effect, after the economy began reviving at a slower rate than had been estimated, the last revisions were presented.
As it turned out, the economy had not been shrinking at what would have been an astonishing rate of 3.8 percent when President Obama took office. It was actually 8.9 percent.
It is not easy to imagine how the country would have looked like today if there had been no Federal Reserve, if there had been no stimulus, if there had been no effort to keep the nearly 9 percent reduction from continuing.
As Republicans push to return to pre-crisis policies, I am reminded of a campaign summary by Chris Rock, as he described the conservative approach.
Democrats didn't cure cancer, so let's vote for cancer.
Michael J. Scott at Mad Mike's America has a sort of reverse empathy, encouraged as President Obama finally gets fed up at Republican politicians.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite finds that Republican favorite Ted Nugent not only thinks President Obama is subhuman, but that Jews are similarly less human than normal folk. Nice, all American, fellow.
- Max's Dad considers the recent Canada upset of the US team at Olympic hockey and recalls, not the USSR, but the Tonya Harding assault by proxy on Nancy Kerrigan.
The man who killed a teenager over an argument about loud music will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Still, it was not a verdict consistent with common sense.
The interview with the one juror who has stepped forward provided confirmation of what many of us have suspected. A majority of the jury wanted to convict the defendant for outright murder. Three holdouts refused.
At issue was whether the shooter was acting in self-defense. The definition in Florida seems to be looser than in most of the country in two respects.
He did not actually have to be in any danger from the teenager he shot and killed. He only had to reasonably imagine the danger.
- Justifiable homicide in Florida is not an affirmative defense in the same way it is in most parts of the world.
An affirmative defense shifts the burden of proof. If I kill someone and claim insanity, for example, a prosecutor does not have to prove I was in my right mind at the time. That level of proof would be a practical impossibility. In fact, it would be up to me to demonstrate some likelihood that I was out of my mind.
If that were not the case, murder would, in most cases, be legal as a matter of practicality. Oh, the legal prohibition would still be on the books. It would just be meaningless. You cannot prove that a person was sane when that person claims otherwise.
So you could kill anyone at anytime and be legally invulnerable. You only would need to claim that you were crazy. Most jurisdictions do not allow legalized murder as a matter of routine. So an affirmative defense puts more burden on the accused. Show evidence you were not sane.
Self defense stands on similar legal ground in most parts of the country. As with insanity, the degree of proof varies. But some burden of evidence is on the defendant.
When juries, out of ignorance, ignore that basic fact, obvious killers go free. After the trial of President Reagan's would-be assassin, I watched a member of the jury fumble for an explanation. Prosecution and defense experts had both testified. If experts can't agree, said the juror, how can we?
In Florida, a reasonable belief takes the definition of "reasonable" out of the hands of the law, and puts it into the imagination of the jury.
Stand-Your-Ground stands the subjective evaluation of fear on even shakier ground.
"My life was in danger" becomes "I was afraid." It only takes one juror in a trial for a capital offense to empathize with someone afraid of a teenager who would not keep his music quiet. Rudeness becomes threatening in the minds of just enough people.
The idea of a middle aged man with a weapon, faced with insolent black teens mouthing off at him over his demand to turn down the music, a man becoming furious enough to kill, fits the occasional experience of most of us. We have met individuals who seem to carry a sort of road rage with them everywhere they go. The angry old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn will sometimes have a gun.
The idea of kids taking such offense at a request to turn their music down that one of them would go into a murderous fury requires of us an imagination that lives too much on the other side of fantasy.
Sometimes the absence of evidence really is evidence of absence. The vanishing weapon, more elusive than yellow cake uranium in Iraq, the weapon police searched for in vain, was, by it's nonexistence, solid evidence not substantial enough to overcome that fantasy.
State of mind is usually allowed a role in criminal cases. Fleeing from apprehension is taken as consciousness of guilt. There was that in this case. Taking aim and firing into an automobile backing away should have provided definitive insight into what had happened moments before.
As it was, most of the jury was helpless to prevent the establishment of a legal standard. Firing into that fleeing vehicle was too much even for those who could conger up an image of a dangerous youth with deadly intent. Clearly, the defendant had crossed the line into attempted murder.
The already dead teenager in that fleeing car was not a part of that verdict.
The convicted attempted killer will likely serve the rest of his life in prison. What will be the good of demanding more? I am reminded of that old story of a convicted defendant protesting a long, long prison term. "At my age, I'll never live long enough to serve out that sentence," he cries to the judge. The magistrate responds reassuringly, "Just serve as much of it as you can."
The reason the prosecution must try the loud music case again is the legal line set by that jury, the line most of the jury resisted but could not overcome. The sentence is not as important as the standard that was set.
The killer yelled at a disrespectful youth, then got a weapon from the glove compartment of his vehicle, and fired shot after shot into the car in which the mouthy teenager sat.
But it was not until he exited his vehicle, knelt, and fired more shots into the car that was then fleeing from him, the other prospective victims racing for their lives, that he finally crossed the line into legal culpability. Right up to that point, he was within his rights.
And that cannot be allowed to stand.
From the Columbia Tribune, Columbia, MO
JEFFERSON CITY – The House Appropriations – Education Committee cut deeply today into Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposals for public schools and higher education, slashing his planned increases by more than $200 million.
But committee Chairman Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, found $8 to address a pressing problem. The money is to be used “for two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”
On the summary sheet handed out to lawmakers, the money is slated for “tin foil hats” and was tied to an amendment removing language barring the state from accepting federal grants to implement Common Core standards for public schools.
- More -
From the Las Vegas Sun:
Hardy also would oppose the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a federal measure that would make it a crime for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity, adding that language to a list of federally protected classes. In 2011, Hardy voted against a similar law in Nevada; Horsford supported it.
“When we create classes, we create that same separation that we’re trying to unfold somehow,” he said. “By continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws.”
- Entire Article -
The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 is says when he comes back, he's coming back as what? A warrior. A might warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe ... I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies 'cause he's coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.
And I believe now - I've checked this out - I believe that sword he'll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.
- Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council, November, 2013
For the most part, mainstream media outlets have ignored the obvious coverage. They are, for once, just too responsible to get the job done.
I suppose that, in my heart, I have always known of that ageless quality within. I am too old to be young, but I'll never be too old to be immature. So it's time to take up the slack.
As January faded into February, the nation was fixated on record breaking cold. Some of us in St. Louis needed a laugh. We looked toward our neighbor to the East. Our willpower had been drained by a Missouri state legislature that votes to put up a statue of Rush Limbaugh (no, I'm not kidding). We turned our weary gaze to Illinois, the Land of Blagojevich. On February 1, I began to feel vindicated, my patience rewarded.
This was the headline in the Chicago Tribune:
|GOP governor candidate denies|
What kind of news organization could turn away from this sort of headline? It's true the Chicago Tribune provided the headline. But no followup of the central theme? No other publications going for a denial of allegations that no one knows about? Not even an article in the Onion?
The story itself was straightforward. It even made the headline make sense.
Dan Rutherford is a Republican running for Illinois Governor. He is not without executive experience. He currently serves as Illinois State Treasurer. And that is where the headline begins. An employee of the State Treasurer's office made some sort of complaint. Dan Rutherford knows what the complaint is and who it comes from. The attorney for the Illinois State Treasurer's office knows as well. The unknown employee knows what the complaint is. The unknown employee has an attorney. The attorney knows everything.
But outside of this group, nobody knows. Or at least they didn't know as February came to us.
So Dan Rutherford holds a press conference. He announces that a complaint has been made. He is angry about it. The allegations are false, completely false. In fact, he has ordered an investigation of the allegations which will prove that the allegations are false.
Reporters ask him what the false allegations are.
Uh . . . He won't say.
And there you have it. GOP governor candidate denies unknown allegations
Is that the best political headline, or what? Well, I thought so.
The complaint itself eventually became public. It involved sexual harassment.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, the investigation, the investigation Rutherford ordered, the investigation that would clear him, that investigation came in.
What was the result? Rutherford won't say. He says pending litigation is the reason. The employee has filed a federal suit and Rutherford says his high regard for courtroom ethics means he can't discuss the case except in court.
It makes for an even better headline.
Investigation about Previously
Unknown Allegations by Unknown
But no. The Chicago Sun Times decided to keep the story straight:
Are you kidding me?
If it had been a Democrat, you can bet Fox News would have known how to have some fun.
Florida's Alex Sink may be leading the way to a more aggressive Democratic approach:
From USA Today:
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tom Petri says he is "distressed by the innuendo" that there is a conflict between his personal financial interests and his official actions in Washington so he took the unusual step on Sunday of asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate him.
- More -
And if at this point you think I’m judging you and crying about it, let me go on and say you really aren't a Christian or, more charitably, you are too ignorant of your faith to have standing in these cases.
- Erick Erickson, February 9, 2014,
on Christians who tolerate homosexuality
I share with most Christians, I suspect, a certain reticence. There is an aversion to speaking as a spiritual authority. At the house of worship I attend, we join our pastor in the same weekly prayer. He expresses the hope that the sins and contradictions in his life will not keep us from hearing God's word. My imagination tells me that many of us in the congregation are inwardly repeating that acknowledgement.
Occasionally the intolerance with which popular media intertwines faith pretty much compels us, in spite of our flaws, to speak out. While Mr. Erickson may draw a circle to exclude folks like me from true Christianity, I try to draw a larger circle that keeps him in. He remains my brother in Christ.
That said, there are times when family becomes a source of embarrassment. The real damage comes as those who want and need something more in spiritual life turn away from faith when it is represented as bigotry. Intolerance is attractive only to those who share profound prejudice.
Erickson is passionate about righteousness, and so he presents his case with a fervor that clouds the reasoning behind it.
But essentially, he reacts to those of us who have disagreed with an absurd mindset. There really are believers who hold that the Old Testament is against homosexuality and therefore God hates homosexuals. You see such believers in the news, carrying placards of hate.
When someone brings up Leviticus, it strikes me as fair to quote prohibitions from the same source against the eating of shellfish. Other books detail the punishment to be meted out to children who are disrespectful to parents (that would be public execution), the prohibition against short people or those with poor eyesight from approaching the altar in worship, and the caution that we must provide for a money-back guarantee when we sell our daughters into slavery.
Reductio ad absurdum: if you can throw scripture at me to "prove" what I see as tragically silly, I should be allowed to throw scripture at you to show what we both see as absurd.
Erickson points out that Leviticus was the old law. Jesus provided for a New Covenant that replaced the old law. So we are unfair when we bring up Leviticus, lobsters, execution, and slavery. That was the old law. The new law, says Erickson, provides the same condemnation against gays. He points mostly to the writings of the Apostle Paul.
There are those who see Paul as less authoritative than Jesus, but Erickson is scornful of that view. Jesus himself defined marriage as between a man and a woman when he quoted Old Testament law to support a new view that women have rights, even in a marriage. At least that's Brother Erick's strained interpretation.
As I read it, the unifying theme in the teachings of Jesus is that Old Testament law does not exist on its own. It flows from a more primal directive, that we should love God and each other. It is only from that premise that other laws should be seen and followed.
This is not explicit. It is a reasonable observation, especially in the definition Jesus gives about love for God and for all God's children: "On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." It is on this basis that Jesus lays claim to fulfilling the law. It is by following the underlying first principle of love that the purpose of the law is met.
Paul is more explicit. In addition to his emphasis of love over law, Paul does give examples of how law can only flow from love in order to be valid. Homosexuality is sometimes given as one of those examples. But it is often described as an affliction flowing from some sort of idolatry: the substitution of something else for God and God's love.
Paul does something else as well. He considers himself not to be the authority on which folks like Erick Erickson should base their beliefs. He seeks to explain his vision of Jesus, but includes in his explanations such phrases as "I speak as a fool" or "I speak as a man." Once he expands this to "What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting." He is saying that he does his best to show what Jesus means, but that he cannot, in good conscience, speak other than his own opinion.
When Erickson denigrates those who do not see Paul as the final authority of sexual ethics, Paul must join us as subject to Erickson's harsh judgment.
All things considered, that Paul does not consider himself as the final authority is a good thing. One advantage to a long life in these times is that a few of my days on earth overlapped with those of the last of the slaves of Abraham Lincoln's time. I remember reading of one elderly woman who forbade any mention of Paul in her house. He had encouraged a runaway slave to return to a slave owner, one of those times that Paul did speak as a man.
The writings of Paul that brother Erick selects are often very near to passages he overlooks. For example, in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, that letter, as Erick points out, in which Paul mentions homosexuality, he also tells us that all things are lawful but not all things are helpful.
From healing on the Sabbath to overturning tables in the temple, Jesus found his antagonists in literalists. As he walked among us, his greatest anger seemed reserved for the substitution of law for love.
Those ancient literalists find their spiritual followers in today's literalists. Brother Erick's mistake, as I see it, is in a basic view of the New Covenant. Rather than follow those Old Testament laws as a substitute for the law of God's love, our brother in Christ forcefully advocates what he sees as New Testament laws as a new substitute for the law of love.
So one barrier to God's love is to be replaced by another.
That's not how I read it.