5 Quick Political Facts for Today (2/17/15)

  • The American public clearly has no idea what it wants from Obama on the issue of ISIS.  A new poll showed a majority of the public disapproves of the president’s handling of ISIS but a majority also do not want boots on the ground to fight them.  Considering the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS for a while (a fact I assume is probably lost on a portion of the respondents of this poll), one has to wonder what the public even wants?  What should he be doing?  The question is not asked in the poll and, since it isn’t asked, it should be noted that some of the disapproval might be coming from people who think the airstrikes themselves are too much and those resources shouldn’t be used by the U.S. government.  We can’t know from this poll.
  • Welfare reform is now causing people to die earlier.  A new study has found the welfare reforms of the 1990s are shaving time off of the lives of the poor.  In a better world, politicians would recognize their duty to protect the citizens they represent and take things like these effects into account.  In reality, it’s just another situation of the elected government not caring about those that do not vote in high numbers or contribute to their campaigns.  I wonder how much longer the wealthy that are running government-subsidized corporations get to live because of their welfare?
  • Attorney General Eric Holder calls for a national moratorium on capital punishmentNot really a strong endorsement of ending the ridiculously expensive practice but at least a step in the right direction from a high-ranking official.  Unfortunately, the U.S. will continue to stay behind most of the rest of the modernized world on this issue for the foreseeable future.
  • Get ready for the GOP swing to the left on gay marriage“Half of Republican primary and caucus voters in the key early states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina said that opposition to same-sex marriage is unacceptable” (Emphasis added).  I believe gay marriage will not be much of an issue by the time the primaries roll around since the SCOTUS will likely legalize it nationwide this summer.  This will be a secretly welcomed change by the GOP candidates since they will then be able to dodge the question on the campaign trail next year.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders continues to be awesome.  In a great op-ed on the new regime in Greece, Sanders tells it like it is again with this great line:

The real concern, apparently, is that democracy may go too far for austerity advocates to continue imposing their economic ideology from a distance: in Spain, Portugal, Finland and elsewhere, the patience of citizens is wearing thin as a growing number of them awaken to the stark reality that, while the very rich get much richer, the austerity programs their governments dutifully implemented are the cause rather than the cure for what ails their economies. (Emphasis added)

Sanders also took the time today to call for the first two years of all college to be free for Americans.  This would be a further expansion on the Obama plan of two years of community college being free.  It’s nice to see that some elected officials in government actually want to see the United States be taken into the 21st Century and not taken back to the 19th.  If only we could elect a guy like that to be president…

Dispelling the Myth a Higher Minimum Wage Equals Job Loss, Microchips in Your Body, and Other Tidbits of Info for the Day

Minimum Wage Myth

Pulitzer Prize-winning economist David Cay Johnston penned an op-ed crushing the myth that raising the minimum wage would equal a loss in jobs.  There is no proof of this and he does a phenomenal job laying out the realities.  Nicely summarized here:

The idea that a higher minimum wage would destroy jobs is powerfully simple and intuitively appealing. The problem is that it is contradicted both by economic theory and the facts…Apart from the abundant evidence and economic theory, there are powerful business interests deploying PR strategies to confuse the public. (Emphasis added)6221571650_2ff1e8413c

Paul on Immigration

Rand Paul voiced his fear that Texas may be on its way to becoming a blue state in the near future because of the growing Hispanic population and stated the Republican party should consider a more open position on amnesty for immigrants.  This shows that even the hardest right-wingers are beginning to realize they are going to have to pull themselves to the left to save their own necks come election time.

Then Paul quoted his fellow Senator Mike Lee by stating, “We were all immigrants once.”  To which every Native American replied, “What?!”

Voting Rights for Former Prisoners

Attorney General Eric Holder expressed his support for changing voting laws so people who have served their time and reformed themselves can rightfully participate in elections again.  This is simply yet another aspect of the American justice system disproportionately affecting African-Americans and is long overdue for change.  And with the increasingly fast change we are seeing regarding marijuana legalization, these changes should quickly follow.

Microchips in Your What?!

A fascinating op-ed appeared on the BBC describing some of the advancements and possibilities of microchips being implanted in the human body.  An interesting read to see where the technology is going:

Amal Graafstra…is a double implantee – he has a microchip in each hand.

In his right hand is a re-writable chip, the same kind used in Oyster travel cards, which can be used to store small amounts of data. By pressing his hand to his phone, information can be downloaded from his body or uploaded into it. The left contains a simple identity number that can be scanned to unlock his front door, log into his computer or even start a motorbike

The Wealthy are Actually the Job Destroyers

Reuters reported that Barclays will be cutting 12,000 jobs and has already begun the process because the company is struggling so badly…so badly they are increasing bonuses for their top earners even though they stunk it up last year. 

It said it paid 2.4 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) in incentive awards last year, raising bonuses at the investment bank by 13 percent despite a slump in its profits. (Emphasis added)

So, with the logic that the wealthy are the “job creators” and they need more money to create the jobs (mythological idea, by the way), we can only assume Barclays will be hiring, let’s say, 24,000 in the near future because the top earners are so much better off.  Can’t wait for that to pan out for the people who they are about to lay off and prove all the right wingers correct on that myth.  Maybe it will happen guys.  And maybe pigs will be cruising through the air on their newly grown wings to celebrate.

NSA Actions Illegal, Gay Marriage in Virginia, and Other Tidbits of Info for Today

  • An independent review has found the NSA’s phone data collection to be illegal.  Whether the actions are legal or illegal, we must simply ask whether they are useful.  Still little to no evidence supporting that, as mentioned in the article:
    “Moreover, even in the dozen cases examined by the board where the metadata linked contacts to a terrorism suspect, most benefits were modest and “limited to corroborating information that was obtained independently by the FBI,” the board report found.”
  • Virginia’s new attorney general has decided not to defend the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.  Just like what has or will happen to every other ban such as this one, it will go down likely in the courts for the exact reason given by the AG:
    “Having exercised his independent constitutional judgment, consistent with his oath of office, the Attorney General has concluded that Virginia’s laws denying the right to marry to same-sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
  • An excellent op-ed by economics professor Daniel Altman appeared in Foreign Policy regarding the reasons why high levels of income inequality are actually very bad for the economy.  One of the biggest reasons:
    “…the allocation of opportunity is not determined solely by effort or ability. To a great degree, access to opportunity in the United States depends on wealth. Discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and sexual discrimination may be on the wane in many countries, but discrimination based on wealth is still a powerful force. It opens doors, especially for people who may not boast the strongest talents or work ethic.”(Emphasis added)
    In short, defenders of the economic status quo haven’t figured out being the child of a wealthy or powerful person does not equal being as smart or talented as the parent.  I’m looking at you, former president youknowwhoyouare.
  • AG Eric Holder is calling for Congress to pass legislation reducing prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders.  One of the clear realities of the failed drug war at this point is the huge economic cost on tax payers (along with the societal ones on the many victims):
    “The federal prison population has mushroomed by 500 percent, to 219,000, over the last 30 years, mainly because of the number and length of mandatory sentences, especially drug sentences…the Urban Institute said in a study that that reducing the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses by even 20 percent would save nearly $1.3 billion over 10 years and cutting the number of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses by half would save about $2.5 billion over the time span.”

    Just try controlling those libidos seeing, potentially, our next president, ladies! Try and fail, that is!
  • And finally, potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, took a break from apparently performing brain surgery on himself to try to court the votes of women…by insulting them.  Well done, sir.  I can almost hear the heavy flow of campaign money dumping into the Republican coffers of anyone-but-this-guy.  His quote:
    “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are hopeless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them with their prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/23/215518/holder-urges-congress-to-ease.html#storylink=cpy