Will the Supreme Court Continue to Show Cowardice on Gay Marriage?

Gay marriage before Supreme Court? Cases weighed – Yahoo! News.

The Supreme Court will decide whether it will finally take up the issue of gay marriage for the entire country or not and a few lines from this article say it all:

Gay marriage before Supreme Court? Cases weighed - Yahoo! News

Throughout U.S. history, the court has tried to avoid getting too far ahead of public opinion and mores. The high court waited until 1967 to strike down laws against interracial marriage in the 16 states that still had them…”What do they have to gain by hearing this case? Either they impose same sex marriage on the whole country, which would create a political firestorm, or they say there’s no right to same-sex marriage, in which case they are going to be reversed in 20 years and be badly remembered. They’ll be the villains in the historical narrative,” said Andrew Koppelman, a professor of law and political science at Northwestern University.

The truly wrongheaded thinking here is that the political firestorm would be such a bad thing.  The professor is definitely right about the outcomes he is suggesting but the question that should be asked here is, what do we truly have to fear from this so-called firestorm?  Will there be rioting?  Looting?  A zombie apocalypse?  Will team Edward or Jacob rise to victory?

The fact is we are admitting a decision against gay marriage will be overturned at some point in the near future and will be forever frowned upon by the generations to come.  So why not just get to the equal-for-all part of this issue by legalizing it nationwide now?  Even if there is a firestorm, why should anyone fear it?

The only element stopping this decision from already being made is the inability of people to change their minds and come to grips with the reality gay marriage is just fine and is fair for those currently being oppressed.  Why should the country be held back in progressing toward equality because a shrinking minority of people think the wrong way on a certain issue?

It’s sad the Supreme Court has chosen cowardice over justice for so long on gay rights and may continue to do so.  It’s even more heartbreaking our generation will be burdened with this ideology being associated with us in the forthcoming history books just as the Supreme Court decisions of the 1800s regarding slavery and Jim Crow laws will forever be intertwined with American beliefs of that century.  It’s a disgrace that only a tiny group of people have the power and ability to change and they still seem to be too afraid to do what is right.

Marijuana legalization backed by Indiana State Police superintendent | The Courier-Journal | courier-journal.com

Marijuana legalization backed by Indiana State Police superintendent | The Courier-Journal | courier-journal.com.

Another state is considering following the lead of Washington and Colorado in legalizing marijuana and the head of the Indiana State Police is clearly on board with this measure.  In all likelihood, this is the first of many officials in law enforcement who will come out in support of these policies as they have seen the destructiveness of keeping pot illegal.  They have first-hand experience and recognize it is too costly for both the government and the non-violent offenders who have their lives unfairly altered by a possession conviction.  At a time when government budgets are tight, solutions must be found to balance out the deficits most levels of government are running.  The legalizing and heavy taxing of marijuana is a small but logical step in this process.

There is one kind of humorous exchange in the article.  First, the state police superintendent states, “If it were up to me I do believe I would legalize it and tax it.”  Then, there is the inevitable running from the statement by his organization, despite the fact he is the head of it:

Capt. Dave Bursten, state police spokesman, quickly backtracked from Whitesell’s statement…“Although the superintendent personally understands the theoretical argument for taxation and legalization, as a police officer with over 40 years of experience he does not support the legalization of marijuana.” (Emphasis added.)

Yeah, “he does not support” it except that if it were his choice, he would “legalize it and tax it”.  Totally different things and I’m sure no one with less than a preschool education would be the slightest bit confused by that.  It’s so silly how organizations have to pretend they are normal by society’s outdated standards and support the status quo despite the reality time and reason are quickly passing it by.  But it is always going to happen as an inevitable part of change and we will just have to accept it no matter how much we just want to laugh.

Ex-Republicans claim Fla. GOP suppressed Democratic vote | The Ticket – Yahoo! News

Ex-Republicans claim Fla. GOP suppressed Democratic vote | The Ticket – Yahoo! News.

Some whistle blowing going on now with the voter suppression tactics that were attempted by the GOP this past election.  A quote well worth noting from this article:

“I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” the anonymous longtime GOP consultant told the newspaper.

As I mentioned previously, this is a disgrace in terms of the idea of democracy because this is not an attempt to change the minds of people based on your policy positions.  It is simply an effort to shut people off from the election process and suppress their voices.  Democracies and people who claim to be patriotic do not do that.  Dictatorships and other oppressive political systems do.  Message to the GOP about democracy: you’re doing it wrong, at best, and downright immorally, at worst.

Wal-Mart Worker Black Friday Walkouts

As the busiest shopping day of the year – Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day, depending on your views – approaches, a very interesting development is occurring in the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart.  It seems the employees of this giant are gaining more and more traction in trying to unionize their jobs and have planned a mass walkout on the biggest moneymaking day for the corporation.  The question is, will it work?  Maybe is probably the best answer that can be given at this time.

No Worker's Rights Here
No Worker’s Rights Here

Wal-Mart has long fought the unionization of its workforce with tactics that some would view as borderline illegal, such as restricting “the dissemination and discussion of pro-union views, threatened to withhold benefits from workers who organize, interrogated workers about their union sympathies and sent managers to eavesdrop on employee conversations.”  A couple of the most notorious actions are documented in one of the linked articles:

Butchers at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Jacksonville, Texas, voted to form a union in 2000 — the first time employees had done so. But soon after that, Wal-Mart eliminated butcher departments in its stores across the country, he said. It has been reported that Wal-Mart said it got rid of its meat department as a cost cutting measure.

A similar thing happened when workers at a Quebec store attempted to unionize in 2005, Bianco said. Wal-Mart closed that store a few months after that.

Wal-Mart rebuts the talk of unionization with one of the most ignorant points of view anyone could put forward.  “A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the number of workers who are raising concerns is very small and don’t represent the views of the vast majority of its workforce of 1.3 million.”  Yes, because the vast majority of laborers around the country, or the world for that matter, would want no part of higher wages or better benefits, particularly the ones working for minimum wage with no benefits or close to it.  I hope my sarcasm didn’t slap you in the face too hard.

The retailer is prepared to retaliate and has now stated, “If [the store employees] are scheduled to work, we expect them to show up and do their job. If they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences.”  But the movement to unionize is slowly growing and it seems an inevitable change may be coming.  At some point, potentially very soon with actions like these, there will be a breaking point where the union movement into Wal-Mart will be unstoppable.

But, again, will it work?  Wal-Mart has gone to drastic measures to stop the unionizing of its workforce and we must wonder how much farther they will be willing to go.  Could they even go so far as to close up their shop and say they are done doing business all together?  Seems like a crazy thought and is probably unlikely but is worth considering.

Taking Their Golden Ball and Going Home
Taking Their Golden Ball and Going Home

The Walton family, the owners of Wal-Mart, certainly have little to worry about.  As stated in the link, “In 2011 six members of the Walton family have the same net worth as the bottom 30% of American families combined.”  Which leads to a bigger issue of the effect of enormous income inequality in the country and how situations like these could play out.  We have seen the threats of CEOs who warned their employees about voting for Obama in the election and closing their businesses in the event of his reelection.  If the owners at the top are so wealthy and have little incentive to continue working, how can people take any action toward improving their working conditions even in the (arguably) freest nation in the world?

So, whether you will be out shopping or staying in to avoid the chaos of the day or maybe even staging a peaceful protest to improve your standard of living, there will be one very fascinating story to watch in terms of the battle between the rich and the normal this Friday.  Will Wal-Mart finally cave in to the demands of their workers’ plea for better wages and benefits or will they once again use immoral and deplorable tactics to suppress the poor in the United States?  Only time will tell.

Special Report: Witnesses tell of organized killings of Myanmar Muslims | Reuters

Special Report: Witnesses tell of organized killings of Myanmar Muslims | Reuters.

Horrific story of religious violence taking place in Myanmar.  It is awful that people who were bonded while trying to win rights under a dictatorship become enemies so quickly after winning some of their freedom because of the impact and social power of extremist religious leaders.  In this case, Buddhists are oppressing and killing Muslims with no true justification as we see another case where extremist religious followers breed more and more hatred and violence instead of the peace they claim to be a proponent of.

GOP Not Ready For Demographic Changes

New U.S. House: Women and minorities to the left; white men to the right – CNN.com.

Nothing incredibly surprising in this article but the important factor to note is the changing demographics in the United States going forward and how clearly out of touch with the minority groups the Republican Party continues to be.  I mentioned before how this election was a big win for progressive ideology and, in some ways, this could be a very historically important election if this begins the trend toward a more minority conscious government.  The coming change is inevitable but it doesn’t appear as if the Republican party is ready for it or even close to being prepared to take minority concerns into consideration in their policy choices.  The idea of a “big umbrella” for the GOP just isn’t true for now.

What the Fiscal Cliff Means for Jobs, in 1 Chart – Matthew O’Brien – The Atlantic

What the Fiscal Cliff Means for Jobs, in 1 Chart – Matthew O’Brien – The Atlantic.

One of the better articles and the best chart from the Congressional Budget Office I’ve seen concerning the fiscal cliff and the effect it will have on jobs.  The most important factor to note here is the difference in jobs with the two different Bush tax cuts options.  We’ve been led to believe by the GOP that the tax cuts for the alleged “job creators” (a.k.a. the wealthy but not technically job creators in the U.S.) are critical and our economy cannot move on without them.  But, as the author of this article puts it, “Washington is haggling over the least stimulative part of the fiscal cliff — the Bush tax cuts for the rich” (emphasis added).  Obviously, Republicans are showing they are not serious about deficit reduction as they continue to block this maneuver. The question now becomes: will the GOP cause another recession just to get their way on the most insignificant part of the fiscal cliff debate?

Voter Suppresion = Awful Policy Positions

The American system of voting leaves a lot to be desired and is certainly not one of the areas where we are the shining example of efficiency for the rest of the world.  Conservative David Frum penned an excellent piece shedding light on some of the issues just prior to the election that is definitely worth the time to read.  But the most worrisome and talked about problem in the United States at this time are the attempts by the right to try to suppress the rights of law-abiding voters across the country.

Just the same ole song.
Just the same ole song.

To be fair, if the shoe was on the other foot and Democrats were desperately looking for ways to win elections they were trailing, they would likely employ similar methods to try to win.  It is the nature of the beast and parties will look for any advantage they can get regardless of how immoral and reprehensible the tactic may be.  But for now, the offending group is the Republican Party and their methods are due some well-deserved criticism.

The most important factor to keep in mind is simply the effort being made.  People are looking through state election laws, deciding where to attack the hardest and make voting most difficult for likely Democratic supporters, and veiling the measures with the unrealistic idea voter fraud is a problem.  In short, time, money, and manpower is being used just to keep people from voting.  Which, underneath it all, means one critical reality for the Republican Party: they can’t win elections on their party platform and policy positions alone and they fully recognize this.

If you, as a political party, are trying to win races by making sure the supporters of your opponents don’t vote, you are acknowledging you cannot win people over on the issues and are using other means to influence the outcome.  Every dollar spent and every hour of work by someone devoted to this activity is recognition of your policy failures.  This is not an act that can be spun by the most hard-right media into something noble or patriotic or anything else other than what it is.  They have the choice to knock on doors or run more ads or print brochures selling their positions and they are choosing not to do this.  Instead, they are making the conscious decision to suppress voters as opposed to engaging them.

There is no spinning this as an act of healthy democracy or patriotism.  It is an act of desperation, immorality, cruelty, and class warfare.  The attempts at voter suppression in the pre-Civil Rights era were about fearing race.  The attempts in 2012 are clearly because of a fear of populism and this is just as shameful as the racism of the past.

Did the Israeli military defy PM Netanyahu? – Amanpour – CNN.com Blogs

Did the Israeli military defy PM Netanyahu? – Amanpour – CNN.com Blogs.

A scary situation with a very positive outcome.  It is amazing how quick some leaders are willing to go to war with seemingly little evidence backing their reasoning.  The most eye-opening reality here is this order and the defying of it took place two years ago and what has Iran done since?  Apparently nothing in terms of attacking Israel or anything else that would have justified the attack at that time.  There is still no proof Iran is building nuclear weapons or is as big a threat as we are being sold and this is just another clear and dangerous mistake made by Iran’s opponents in this foreign policy battle.

Tax hike for wealthy Americans won’t kill growth: CBO – Yahoo! News

Tax hike for wealthy Americans won’t kill growth: CBO – Yahoo! News.

A worthwhile read about the fiscal cliff and the potential effect of either extending all the Bush era tax cuts or extending them only for the middle class earners and below.  A critical piece of info seems to be missing here and that is the amount of revenue possibly generated to begin battling the deficit by these maneuvers.  Would be a good bit to chomp on as this debate continues.  But the crucial part to recognize in this article is the reality that a tax increase on the wealthiest in the country will not have much of an effect in the way of hurting the economy and other measures can be used to offset the smaller growth projected by it.