Archive for Republicans

Apr
05

Those were the days – Not

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Fugitive Slaves in the Dismal Swamp, Virginia — by David Edward Cronin, 1888. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fugitive Slaves in the Dismal Swamp, Virginia — by David Edward Cronin, 1888. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Not long ago, Derek Thompson explored the origin myth surrounding Thomas Carlyle coining the term “the dismal science” for economics. Thompson writes:

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.

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Apr
02

Attacking the cities

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Image National Conference of State Legislatures

While North Carolina’s HB2 anti-LGBT bill has received lots of press attention, it is simply the latest attack by Republican-led state legislatures against cities filled with large blocks of blue voters, the next phase of the Defund the Left strategy. Like Michigan’s 2015 “Death Star” preemption bill (HB 4052) which, as introduced, overrode “all local ordinances governing employers’ relationships with their employees,” but also “any local ordinance that controls minimum wage, benefits, sick leave, union organizing and strikes, wage disputes” and more, North Carolina’s HB2 is its kin. PR Watch looked at the trend back in February:

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.

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Mar
30

NC’s HB2: Is it getting hot in here?

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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.

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Mar
27

Of Trumps and tweens and blastocysts

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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:

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Mar
26

Can you feel the integrity?

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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:

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Mar
26

We’ll Meet Again

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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.

North Carolina’s Anti-Gay Tourism Commercial from Funny Or Die

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:

Rob Reiner Says He Won’t Shoot in North Carolina Unless Anti-LGBT Law Is Repealed

Others will follow, just not to North Carolina.

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Mar
25

If you’ve got a fear, they’ve got a bill

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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.

If passed in the S.C. House and signed by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, it would be the first of its kind in the nation:
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Mar
24

“A legislature led by extremists” #WeAreNotThis

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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.

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Mar
20

Property in Australia

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Given the animus in Washington directed at the current Democratic president, my wish list for the 2016 Democratic candidate is pretty modest. There are gubernatorial and other state races that have much more local impact than who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So I want only two things: the next two Supreme Court picks and coattails. For the first, I need the Democratic candidate to win. For the second, I need the candidate to win big.

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.

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Mar
12

The new nullification

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George Cruikshank illustration from "Oliver Twist," 1911 edition

George Cruikshank illustration from “Oliver Twist,” 1911 edition

The M.O. of the extremist Republican Party: find the lines, cross them, dare people to push them back. Courts have. So now the GOP is going after the courts.

The new nullification expands on the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Republicans now claim the right to preemptively void any legal decisions they might not like. Rejecting President Obama’s yet-unnamed pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, for example. On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned Judicial Committee colleagues that they were redrawing the lines and setting a precedent, a new normal that will cut both ways.

Senate Republicans have stonewalled Obama’s other judicial appointments. Republicans have refused to hold confirmation votes on presidential nominees to federal agencies they would like abolished. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wants states to be able to effectively nullify Supreme Court rulings he doesn’t like. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would allow two-thirds of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision or a federal law or regulation they don’t like. As Iowa’s 2014 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joni Ernst told the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.” Don’t even think about it.

What’s not the matter with Kansas?

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