Archive for Republicans
President Obama took Senate Republicans to school yesterday in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School where he taught constitutional law for a dozen years. He spoke on the intransigence of Senate Republicans in refusing to give a hearing to his Supreme Court nominee, Illinois native Merrick Garland:
“If you start getting into a situation where the process of appointing judges is so broken, so partisan, that an eminently qualified jurist cannot even get a hearing, then we are going to see the kind of sharp partisan polarization that has come to characterize our electoral politics seeping entirely into the judicial system …”
“That erodes the institutional integrity of the judicial branch. At that point, people lose confidence in the ability of the courts to fairly adjudicate cases and controversies. And our democracy cannot afford that …”
But Carlyle labeled the science “dismal” when writing about slavery in the West Indies. White plantation owners, he said, ought to force black plantation workers to be their servants. Economics, somewhat inconveniently for Carlyle, didn’t offer a hearty defense of slavery. Instead, the rules of supply and demand argued for “letting men alone” rather than thrashing them with whips for not being servile. Carlyle bashed political economy as “a dreary, desolate, and indeed quite abject and distressing [science]; what we might call … the dismal science.”
Today, when we hear the term “the dismal science,” it’s typically in reference to economics’ most depressing outcomes (e.g.: on globalization killing manufacturing jobs: “well, that’s why they call it the dismal science,” etc). In other words, we’ve tended to align ourselves with Carlyle to acknowledge that an inescapable element of economics is human misery.
With Congress gridlocked and a majority of state legislatures controlled by right-wing interests, cities have become laboratories of democracy for progressive policies like a higher minimum wage, LGBTQ protections, or parental leave.
In response, corporate interests and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have increasingly been turning to state “preemption” measures—some of them unprecedentedly aggressive—to override an array of progressive policy gains at the city or county level.
“2015 saw more efforts to undermine local control on more issues than any year in history,” said Mark Pertschuk, director of the watchdog group Preemption Watch.
Last year, state legislatures in at least 29 states introduced bills to block local control over a range of issues, from the minimum wage, to LGBTQ rights, to immigration, according to Preemption Watch. Seventeen states considered more than one preemption bill.
House Bill 2 (HB2), North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law is drawing lots of fire from inside and outside the state. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach have banned travel to North Carolina for their employees. Apple, Biogen, PayPal, IBM, and the NBA have condemned the law. Plus Dow Chemical, Google, Bayer, the NCAA, and others. The press center for the annual High Point furniture trade show announced Monday that “dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have cancelled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2.”
Yesterday, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. criticized HB2 as “inappropriate, unnecessary legislation that will hurt North Carolina.” The Charlotte-based Bank of America was a major player in the financial crisis in 2008, but still figures prominently among the state’s employers. McColl’s criticism will not help McCrory, Charlotte’s former mayor.
New Yorker tells the sad tale of the latest failed experiment in AI. Apparently (I missed it), Microsoft last week rolled out a twitter bot named Tay:
Tay is an artificial intelligent chat bot developed by Microsoft’s Technology and Research and Bing teams to experiment with and conduct research on conversational understanding. Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation. The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.
Tay is targeted at 18 to 24 year old in the US.
Uh-oh. You don’t have to be Mary Shelley to see where this is going. After barely a day of “consciousness,” Microsoft pulled Tay’s plug.
Anthony Lydgate explains:
Lines out the doors for Arizona primary voting. Media reports officials having a hard time keeping up with crowds. pic.twitter.com/1tXEOyrdMr
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) March 22, 2016
Can you feel the election integrity? By now, you’ve heard of the mess in Arizona during primary voting this week. Or rather specifically, in Maricopa County. The Arizona Republic diagnosed the problem succinctly:
North Carolina legislators announced this week that they’re changing North Carolina’s state song from “The Old North State” to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.” OK, not really.
And the backlash builds against NC’s new LGBT discrimination bill:
On Wednesday, as the bill was being considered, Dow Chemical, Biogen, and Raleigh-based software company Red Hat all opposed it. Others have since added their voices, including IBM, American Airlines, PayPal, and Apple. (Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is openly gay and graduated from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.) As my colleague Gillian White reported this week, North Carolina has sought to make itself a hub for tech companies and startups. Democrats in the state say the law could endanger federal Title IX funding for schools.
The NBA, in a statement, suggested it might reconsider plans to host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte. The NCAA also suggested the law might cause it tochange plans to hold elements of its annual college-basketball tournament and other events in the Old North State—a move that could resonate in this hoops-crazed state.
San Francisco’s mayor has barred publicly funded employees from travelling to North Carolina.
The NCGOP already booted the movie industry, but just for good measure:
Others will follow, just not to North Carolina.
South Carolina is not to be outdone by its northern neighbor when it comes to legislation written to address unreasoning fears. The S.C. Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to create a refugee registry that requires law enforcement to investigate refugees entering the state:
“We can make South Carolina out of the 50 states the most unwelcome state for refugees,” said state Sen. Kevin Bryant, a Republican from Anderson.
ABC News reports:
The bill requires refugees resettled by the federal government into South Carolina to register with its Department of Social Services. That agency would share the information with state police, who would be asked under the measure to confirm that the refugees aren’t security risks and report back to lawmakers.
The bill passed 39-6. Some Democrats supported the measure after Bryant agreed to remove a requirement that no state money be spent on refugees — including funds to educate their children. Bryant also removed a provision that would make the registry public after many lawmakers worried that would threaten the safety of the refugees.
Republicans in the swing state of North Carolina must feel heavily gerrymandering the state hasn’t given them enough of an election-year edge. Nor implementing perhaps the most radical voter restrictions in the country. In the chaos caused by the new voter ID law during last week’s record primary turnout, voters cast over 40,000 provisional ballots. The highest concentrations were on college campuses.
But there is nothing quite like a hot-button, social issue to bring out the GOP faithful and distract them from thinking about the condition of the state’s schools, or their jobs, or how screwed up their state Republican party is.
Yesterday, the GOP-controlled legislature convened a special session to overturn a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their identities. But that was just the warm-up. “The bill also prevents local governments from passing ordinances that prohibit discrimination beyond a state standard based on race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex,” according to the Charlotte Observer. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the measure last night. But not before state Senate Democrats walked out in protest.
Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann examine for Atlantic magazine how that might work out. The nominating conventions of both major parties will have a say in that. Ornstein and Mann observe that Cleveland has ordered riot gear for 2,000 in advance of the Republican convention in July:
We may shock you if we say that whatever the circumstances, if Trump does capture the Republican nomination and there is no significant third party or independent effort, he has a chance, however remote it looks now, to win. With America’s tribal politics, any nominee probably starts with a floor of 45 percent of the votes. What if there is serious economic turbulence or a Paris-style attack in the fall? Could enough voters in key states like Ohio and Michigan go to the strong man? It’s possible. And although a Trump presidency would be constrained by the elements of the American political system that have brought gridlock—separated powers, separate institutions, and centers of power—it would not be pretty.