Rumproast narrates the amazing post-election dinner at the White House where Republicans demanded that President Obama weep bitter tears of confession and become a Republican. Okay, the slight hyperbole is my own. But Rumproast recounts how they then were offended when he declined.
Jon Perr at Perrspectives suggests that rock hard Republican principles on executive orders vary wildly, depending on the party of the occupant at the White House.
- Vincent at A wayfarer's notes discovers an old friend while listening to the radio, and remembers a long ago friendship and one of the best math puzzles you'll see this week.
From The New York Times:
Senate Democrats voted on Thursday to keep Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as their leader, but his victory came only after a nearly four-hour closed-door meeting in which 28 caucus members expressed their frustration with the party’s direction after an Election Day drubbing.
The voting was done by secret ballot, but it was not unanimous, reflecting a divide within the party over the need to elevate new faces and younger leaders. Those concerns were reflected in part in the decision Thursday to create a new but relatively small leadership role for Senator Elizabeth Warren, 65, of Massachusetts, a folk hero of the left.
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The Republic of ancient Rome was not something we would regard as a republic today. 90% of Rome was prohibited from voting. The Roman Senate was chosen by the elites, those of great wealth.
There were proposals to begin a limited inclusion of that 90%, the plebeians. This was widely thought to be ... well ... controversial. Limited is an understatement. Largely ceremonial positions with circumscribed powers didn't satisfy much of anyone.
A plot led by Lucius Sergius Catilina was formed to overthrow the entire messy government. Catilina is a fascinating fellow. He was partly an accused O.J. style killer. His wife, son, and by then ex-brother-in-law were murdered. And he later became somewhat of a social reformer with economic plans the elites thwarted.
The plot involved a lot of bloodletting among ruling Senators. Eventually several thousand supporters of the conspiracy were killed in battle with Catalina.
A dictator was named to uncover and punish anyone who was involved. Informers were encouraged to bring accusations. If anyone's loyalty was in doubt, laws were passed to cover the accusations. Those accused retroactively were executed, and their estates went to the government. The informers got a percentage of the confiscated estates.
Think of it as McCarthyism on commission.
Romans were pretty good at record-keeping. The names of the informers were duly filed away. When those who were allowed to vote for Senators got a little antsy about fellow members of the elite being accused, killed, and their families left penniless, they kind of turned on the idea of killing and confiscation. So new laws were invented and many of the informers were accused and executed. Pac-man law.
Eventually, the whole idea of retroactive laws had lost its appeal. "Ex post facto" came to possess a negative connotation.
That is not to say the practice stopped. After Julius Caesar was assassinated by those who thought Romans would celebrate, the entire edifice of the elitist republic went into decline. Emperors took over, and often the wealthy were targeted for new crimes that were applied retroactively.
Old crimes for which penalties had already been paid were also re-prosecuted. New punishment for old crimes included execution and confiscation of wealth. Had to keep each new Caesar living in style.
The practice of inventing new laws or revamping old laws with new penalties, then applying everything retroactively survived the Empire. Ex post facto laws were applied to pretty much anyone that royalty didn't like. Retroactive punishment in England was often used to persecute Catholics then Protestants then Catholics.
After the American revolution, Ex Post facto laws took another turn. Those who had not supported the revolution were targeted for retribution. That bothered those gathered to form a new Constitution. They were also a little bothered by old, settled, violations with newly invented punishments. What bothered them even more was the effect on money.
Lots of people owed money to people in other states. It was part of doing business. I buy from you, I owe you the money, and I am required to pay it. But, since a lot of folks from other states were owed the money, individual states made it easy to help those who owed screw over those who were owed. They did it with ex post facto laws. In South Carolina, for example, those who owned lots of worthless land that nothing would grow on were allowed to use it to pay off debts.
Since I owe you ten thousand dollars and I don't want to pay you in cash, I'll give you an acre of land worth ten thousand dollars - heh heh heh.
So delegates put two clauses directly in the Constitution. One said Congress can't pass laws and punishments retroactively. The other said no state could pass anything retroactively.
The punishment part applies to basic rights. A law can't take your property or fine you for some offense that was not an offense before the law was passed. And a law can't be revised to increase the punishment on violations that happened before the law was revised.
Remember that ten dollar traffic fine you paid last year? It's now ten thousand dollars or ten thousand days in prison. See you in thirty years.
But the punishment part does not apply to privileges that are not rights. A new law can take away your license to drive if you have been legally blind since that firecracker accident. Driving is considered a privilege, not a right.
How is voting affected?
In 2008, Kelli Jo Griffin had been convicted of using drugs. She served her sentence and decided to turn her life around. She was correctly told that she could vote.
In 2011, the Republican governor of Iowa put in a new policy. Those who were convicted of serious crimes could never, ever, vote again. It was not a law, exactly, although laws are in effect concerning some felonies and vague "infamous crimes." He just put it in an executive order. There was no effort to notify those who might register.
Last year Kelli Jo Griffin registered to vote. She took her two kids along so they could see good citizenship in action. She was later arrested for voting.
The governor not only issued the executive order, he also launched a criminal investigation to put in jail anyone with a record who had later voted. Griffin was one of these who had voted without knowing about the executive order.
She was offered a plea bargain that would have spared her from more jail time. She turned it down. A jury decided the accusation was unfair and found her innocent.
Should the executive order have been issued to begin with?
To those who believe voting is a right, the answer is obvious. Rights are not to be taken away by executive order.
Those who think of voting as a privilege that must be earned, a privilege always subject to proof, see it another way. Only the privileged may vote.
From Retired Three Star General Daniel P. Bolger in the New York Times:
AS a senior commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, I lost 80 soldiers. Despite their sacrifices, and those of thousands more, all we have to show for it are two failed wars. This fact eats at me every day, and Veterans Day is tougher than most.
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Kansas will collect $1 billion less in revenue in 2015 and 2016 than its projected expenses following massive income tax cuts signed into law by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
The new revenue estimates released Monday revealed that Kansas would burn through about $380 million in reserves and still need to cut $280 million to balance its current budget for fiscal year 2015, which ends next June 30.
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The visit was a big deal. It was not the first time the Dalai Lama had been in the United States. But, on this day, the spiritual leader of an oppressed people, exiled from Communist China, was visiting the assassination site of another spiritual leader. The National Civil Rights Museum is located in Memphis, Tennessee, at the motel where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered.
The mood was solemn, but decidedly upbeat, as interim Mayor Myron Lowery exchanged a fist-bump with the holy man from Tibet. The Dalai Lama later confessed discomfort with the gesture. He had wondered if it had suggested violence. He could have asked a television host on Fox News. A year before, a segment devoted to the way Presidential candidate Barack Obama greeted his wife was introduced in what has become signature Fox fashion:
A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently. We'll show you some interesting body communication and find out what it really says.
- E.D. Hill, on Fox News, June 6, 2008
The introduction had taken the tried and true Fox formula a quantum leap upward. That leap went into absurdity. Instead of striking a blow against the upstart Senator who wanted to become President, the speculation about a secret terrorist signal made people laugh. Worst of all, they were laughing at Fox News.
Pretty much everyone outside of the now silent Fox News network had a field day with terrorist fist jabs. The online urban dictionary still defines terrorist fist jab.
Like an ordinary fist jab, but with 50% more terrorism. Can only be performed by black presidential candidates who are also secret muslims.
E.D. Hill did offer a brief apology for those who misunderstood. She explained she was only reporting on media misconceptions about the "terrorist fist jab."
I apologize because unfortunately some thought I personally had characterized it inappropriately. I regret that. Not my intention and I certainly didn't mean to associate the word "terrorist" in any way with Senator Obama and his wife.
- E.D. Hill, on Fox News, June 7, 2008
Aside from the apology on behalf of those dim enough to misunderstand her clear reporting, Fox never acknowledged the widely mocked smear. Fox never backtracked. There was no retraction. It would have set a bad precedent. The Fox host had simply followed the same ethic long advanced at Fox News. Take any accusation, rumor, or suspicion, and present it to a predominantly conservative audience as legitimate speculation.
Is Barack Obama really from Kenya?
Does Obamacare include death panels to decide when the elderly should die?
Is President Obama trying bring Ebola to the United States?
We report, you decide.
E.D. Hill had just taken it to an impermissible level. The level of unintended comedy. Her contract with Fox played out and was never renewed.
A replay, of sorts, happened in Minneapolis the week before the 2014 midterm election. The mayor of Minneapolis wanted to acknowledge the efforts of a young convicted felon to turn his life around. She posed with him. He was dressed in a not-quite Santa costume as he worked with a community agency. Actually, he was just wearing a red coat with white hat and scarf, but I do have an imagination. They were laughing as he pointed at her and she pointed back.
Here's how a report was introduced on KSTP-TV5 in Minneapolis:
Tonight, law enforcement sources alerted us to a photo that has them fuming over the actions of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. They want to know why the mayor would take a picture with convicted criminal while he and the mayor flashed gang signs.
- KSTP-TV, October 31, 2014
Gang signs? From pointing at each other?
The internet has become like a game show. Who can find the best example of gang members pointing?
Entries have included President Richard Nixon, Congressional Representative Michele Bachman, Nelson Mandela, Uncle Sam (I want YOU!), a cute little kitten, and God.
God comes from the famed Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo, sure enough, has the Almighty pointing. So God is a member in good standing of a north side gang from Minneapolis? That would make them pretty much invincible. "And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?"
In the KSTP newscast, a retired police officer is interviewed.
The fact that they're flashing gang signs back and forth at each other showing solidarity with the gangs, she's legitimizing what they're doing. She's legitimizing these people who are killing our children in Minneapolis.
- Mike Quinn, interviewed by KSTP-TV, October 31, 2014
The mayor, of course, is quoted, defending her gang endorsement, saying that we should support those who are trying to get on track. It is possible some viewers may have paid close enough attention to know the mayor is being Breitbarted. She is actually referring to her support for the felon who has earned release and really is getting his life on track.
Amid the fun, we can find a serious side. There are many cases that have not exploded into as high a level of hilarity. KSTP and the reporter who "obtained" the photograph (actually it was on facebook) are noted for the same sort of distortions on other news stories. There are always those willing to believe those distortions.
This incident does reflect a reputation for sensationalism earned by the station over time. That may be the motivation. Or the impetus may be a more general failing, one that many national outlets sometimes embrace: a loyalty to a news narrative that supersedes a quest for mere details.
KSTP-TV5 in Minneapolis has published two more stories doubling down, tripling down, on the first report. Two people laughing and pointing at each other must be gang members. Someone in the police department told them so.
By the way, the Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department was standing by, smiling, as the original pointer-gate photo was taken.
From WCCO, Minneapolis, Minnesota:
Garth Brooks is playing another two sold-out shows at Target Center Saturday night.
But, it’s a moment from Friday night’s late show that has a lot of his fans still talking.
Teresa Shaw caught Brooks’ attention with a hand-made sign: “Chemo This Morning, Garth Tonight, Enjoying The Dance.”
What happened next brought the crowd to tears and gave Teresa the boost she needed for the battle she’s fighting at home.
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The decision to increase U.S. troop deployments to Iraq isn't a sign the U.S. strategy against ISIS is failing, but rather a signal the campaign is entering a new phase, President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday on the CBS news program "Face the Nation."
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From National Public Radio:
To many Germans, Harald Jaeger is the man who opened the Berlin Wall.
It's a legacy that still makes the former East German border officer uncomfortable 25 years after he defied his superiors' orders and let thousands of East Berliners pour across his checkpoint into the West.
"I didn't open the wall. The people who stood here, they did it," says the 71-year-old with a booming voice who was an East German lieutenant colonel in charge of passport control at Bornholmer Street. "Their will was so great, there was no other alternative but to open the border."
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From the New York Times:
Just days after his party was routed in the midterm elections, President Obama said that he and his White House team had not succeeded in effectively selling the benefits of his policies to the American people, calling it a “failure of politics” that he must change in the final two years of his presidency.
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Nuclear Iran and a Fevered United States Senate (7:24) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Obama can use the new Republican Senate to force Iran into an agreement Iran won't like and Republicans will hate.
I am a values voter. I hope always to vote the grown up values I was taught as a child.
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Tommy Christopher watches in awe as Chris Matthews at MSNBC has his new anti-Obama disappointment wrapped around his neck by a knowledgeable guest. Chris is enamored by his own fables of Reagan-Tip camaraderie and truly believes Republicans would put away their visceral hatreds of Obama, if the President would just try harder to soothe their delicate sensibilities.
Atheist PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, continues to discover atheists that are just as bad as many religious folk. In this case, two white guys discuss how racist and sexist anyone has to be to point out racism and sexism. We do sometimes hear that sort of thing Sunday morning in Fellowship Hall, don't we?