Maiello: Human Rights and the Stock Market
Doc Cleveland: Fear Itself: Ukraine Edition
And on a Lighter Note, CPAC Starts Today!
Just based on conversations I've had over the years, one of the assumed best things about the enduring democracy of the United States is that we've had one Constitution, amended infrequently, for a very long time. Other countries, we're told, go through constitutions quite frequently and others don't have them at all. Today, Louis Michael Seidman writes in The Times that we should give up on the Constitution all together. It has become, he argues, an impediment to smart decision-making and an appeal to a long departed gentry who would not understand the problems we face today.
This morning, I heard the news that a 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang raped in Delhi on December 16th had died. Another gang rape victim, in the state of Punjab, committed suicide this week after being pressed by police to drop the case and accept money or even marry one of the rapists. The girl, a teenager, and her family wanted police to open an investigation.  [Read more]
Apparently casting about for ideas for an Op-ed column this week, Nicholas Kristof has gone back to the "philanthrocapitalism" well with a column titled "How Giving Became Cool." He credits Ted Turner's decision to funnel $1 billion for charitable causes through the United Nations a few years back, and then his agitating for more generosity from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who have since championed "The Giving Pledge," where our wealthy betters promise to give away half of their fortunes to charitable causes. [Read more]
Before dawn on Christmas Eve a man set fire to his car and his house and waited for the firefighters to arrive so he could murder them. He shot four, killing two. They were volunteers. One of the men he killed was also a local police lieutenant. They died for going out on a winter morning to protect their neighbors. [Read more]
...Picture it. It was the middle 1990s. Kurt Cobain still breathed. Courtney Love still made sense. People wore flannel on top of their flannel. Britney Spears was a Mouseketeer and a virgin. Some people still carried pocket pagers, known as "beepers." Well, only drug dealers. Pay phones existed. The rapper Ice-T was an unlikely candidate for starring in a Law and Order spin-off. [Read more]
Maybe Wayne LaPierre is onto something. So suggests DF in his latest blog, What Can We Do to Stop Massacres? Isn't it at least worth considering, he asks, LaPierre's proposal to station armed "responders" at our schools?
It is worth considering. An armed officer presents a defense and a deterrent. It seems indisputable that LaPierre's proposal would help protect our schools against violent attacks.
But would it stop massacres? Not unless we placed multiple armed responders at every park, playground, pool, day camp, playing field, Sunday school, daycare center, shopping mall, or any other place where children gather. [Read more]
Friends, please consider signing this petition urging President Obama to think harder and to come up with a qualified Democrat, rather than former Senator Chuck Hagel, as the next Secretary of Defense.
From what I've been reading today (and fighting about on Twitter) some on the left and the libertarian right are supporting Hagel because of his neocon opponents. The good thing about Hagel is that he won't push Obama into a war with Iran. Neocons hate that. But, who cares? Neocons have no influence. [Read more]
This might be* stupid, but hear me out.
One of the problems with guns is that for all the fancy gadgets and accessories, they are pretty low tech. You can put a laser site on a rifle. It's still just an enhanced version of a very old technology. It's a technology that is so old that it is not networked in any way. It cannot be controlled from afar any more than a hammer or hacksaw can be. [Read more]
Our gun laws have been distorted to suit the needs of a single interest group. That small, privileged group’s desires outweigh the needs of nearly every other American, and have more influence with our elected leaders than the suffering of crime victims, the recommendations of law enforcement, or the common-sense demands of public safety. These privileged few are not hunters, or sportsmen, or homeowners concerned with self-defense. They are hobbyists. We live in a gun collector’s paradise, and it is very dangerous.
Everyone is sick right now. There's only one thing it seems we can all agree on, which is that we can abide the massacre of children neither in conscience nor gut. It's an unfortunate truth that what transpired on Friday in Newtown was different in degree rather than in kind, but the degree seems to matter this time.
Even more unfortunate is that this heightened arousal doesn't really seem to be leading to many cogent answers to the question, "How do we prevent this from happening again?" [Read more]
I know I've brought this up before but back in the 90s, when I worked at a chain book/video/music store, a dude used to come in with his family and a nine millimeter pistol in a shoulder holster. The rules back then in New Mexico were that it was legal to carry an unconcealed firearm, though establishments were allowed to ban them and it was illegal to discharge a firearm within the city limits. So, this guy with his military style haircut (but not the kind of body or discipline you'd associate with having completed the most basic basic training) would come into the store with his piece in full view. The store owners didn't care to ban him.
After every major gun-inflicted tragedy we're told by the pro-everything-that-shoots bunch that it's too soon to be talking about gun control. We hear again that guns don't kill people, it's the people misusing the guns who kill people. We hear that they could just as well be using knives or garrotes or box cutters or poison or 3,000 pound vehicles.
There are 300 million guns in America, which is enough to arm everyone. About half of households are gun owners. That includes the house I grew up with. It includes some of my colleagues and friends. It includes right wingers and left wingers. They're good people and to them, guns are objects and they have as much a right to them as they do to any other object in their lives. [Read more]
20 children have been murdered in Connecticut. This what you can do about it right now:
1. Write and call your Congressman. Writing to your Congressional representatives is the most important thing you can do, more important than writing to the White House. Write and call your House member first, and then your two Senators. You can find their contact information at house.gov and senate.gov.
So it has happened. Remember the other day when I wrote that Michigan had become a Right-to-Work state? It's not that I'm prescient or anything, announcing a done deal on Saturday when it didn't actually become law until yesterday (Tuesday), when Govnerd Ricky signed the two "Hasta la Vista, Union" bills hustled through the Republican-led legislature in a dazzling demonstration of warp speed. No, it's just that I've come to know those guys. No amount of talking, cajoling, coercing or begging was going to change the course of that bloody action, no matter what. [Read more]
From a spending standpoint one of the problems for Social Security, and for any retirement annuity or lifetime pension, is how to maintain purchasing power for recipients in a world of generally rising prices. It would be so nice, all agree, if prices could just be made not to rise so quickly. This is, unfortunately, very difficult to control.
Enter the Chained CPI. It's a measure of inflation that takes the substitution effect of consumers changing their buying habits in response to a rise in prices. If the price of steak goes up, the story goes, consumers buy more chicken and the government doesn't have to worry about making sure that retirees can keep up with the price of steak. [Read more]
Forget about Benghazi. The whole imbroglio was little more than an election gambit gone sour. Republican leaders, frustrated that their charges failed to wound Obama in November, have vented their fury on his choice for Secretary of State.
But Susan Rice's record as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. raises other more serious concerns. The New York Times published two articles today, a news story and an op-ed, which question Rice's judgment concerning several African dictators. [Read more]
Last week Michigan's Republican-majority legislature, with no committee meetings, no floor debate, in a rush to get this done before January when their control lessens, voted to add my beautiful state to a growing number of states--23 of them so far--that have been downgraded to what some have been led to believe is an assurance of a "Right-to-Work".
Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the Frenc [Read more]