The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Tue, 30 Jun 2015 04:35:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Religious and gay rights must coexist (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/206304/religious-and-gay-rights-must-coexist-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206304/religious-and-gay-rights-must-coexist-guest-voice/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 04:35:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206304 EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a vacation replacement column for Eugene Robinson. Due to technical issues it’s run in the slot for his column. But it’s by Michael Gerson. Religious and gay rights must coexist by Michael Gerson WASHINGTON — It is often the fate of conservatives to be concerned about the fire code and occupancy [...]

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a vacation replacement column for Eugene Robinson. Due to technical issues it’s run in the slot for his column. But it’s by Michael Gerson.

Religious and gay rights must coexist
by Michael Gerson


WASHINGTON — It is often the fate of conservatives to be concerned about the fire code and occupancy limit at someone else’s party. Never more conspicuously than concerning the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges.

With many friends and relatives celebrating the outcome, judicial conservatives are generally anxious about the process. Beyond the question, “Who benefits?” conservatives are asking, “Who rules?” Should it be judges determining and applying an evolving conception of human rights, or legislatures engaged in the slower, messier work of self-government?

Social conservatives are correctly upset about a process that grants, in an act of self-dealing, enormous power to an unrepresentative clique of lawyers who cannot imagine any serious moral deliberation beyond their immediate social circle. But social conservatives also need to recognize that, before Obergefell, the process of self-government was moving with unaccustomed haste in the direction of state recognition of gay marriages. And this reflects an extraordinary shift in public opinion toward acceptance of the practice.

Why has the gay rights movement been so dramatically successful? Certainly, the people who came out to family and friends — often at considerable risk and cost — humanized an abstract debate. Fictional gay characters — see “Glee” and “Modern Family” — did much the same.

But perhaps the most significant shift in strategy came from public intellectuals such as Jonathan Rauch and Andrew Sullivan who urged gays to embrace the conventional, bourgeois practice of marriage. What had seemed to many Americans a sexual liberationist movement requested access to the institution designed to limit sexual freedom for the sake of social order and effective childrearing (while also delivering joys that arise only out of commitment). Many gay rights advocates essentially made conservative arguments — concerning the individual and social benefits of faithfulness — to secure their legal goal. It is a form of gay rights that Middle America — already inclined to live and let live — could readily embrace.

As did a majority of the Supreme Court. In the course of his ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy found the “lifelong union” of marriage to be of “transcendent importance.” “Far from seeking to devalue marriage,” says Kennedy, “the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect — and need — for its privileges and responsibilities.”

Gay people are joining a social institution just as it is fading among some social groups and that heterosexuals have often made a hash of. We have no idea if gays will do better, worse or the same. But they now have a chance to leave their imprint.

What happens to people and institutions that continue to embrace the traditional view of marriage — the one that President Barack Obama held when he was elected? This conviction has been declared an illegitimate basis for public policy. But will the state regard interactions with institutions that embody traditional views to be contaminating? How will grants to Catholic anti-poverty programs or to students attending evangelical colleges be affected?

The tens of millions of people holding a traditional view of marriage are not generally motivated by animus (though some, of course, are). Many embrace a certain reading of their sacred religious text, or accept the moral teachings of a religious institution. You may disagree with that reading and teaching, but the people and institutions that hold them are not going away.

Some of the main architects of the gay marriage movement, including Rauch and Sullivan, are genuine pluralists. They do not intend the advance of gay rights to become a campaign to defund and delegitimize traditional institutions. Such a legal effort would guarantee decades of cultural warfare. Obergefell would then fall into the category of Roe v. Wade, a source of national division, rather than Brown v. Board of Education, a source of inspiration.

Those who believe that religion in America is about old white men telling them who to sleep with really don’t know much about religion in America. They might visit, for example, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, which, in the wake of Katrina, helped a community crawl back into functionality. This was done with both government and private funds. Religious service providers across the country are meeting needs that most people don’t even notice. Will a legal assault on these institutions be defined as a prerequisite for equality?

The alternative is a principled pluralism in which gay people can enjoy the institution of marriage and religious institutions can organize, educate and serve according to their beliefs. In a post-Obergefell world, this is an outcome many of us could welcome.

Michael Gerson’s email address is michaelgerson@washpost.com.(c) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group



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shutterstock.com

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NBCUniversal Says ‘Adios’ To Donald Trump; Cuts Ties With Presidential Candidate http://themoderatevoice.com/206302/nbcuniversal-says-adios-to-donald-trump-cuts-ties-with-presidential-candidate/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206302/nbcuniversal-says-adios-to-donald-trump-cuts-ties-with-presidential-candidate/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 04:08:55 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206302 Not even a week has passed by since Univision made the decision to cut ties with Donald Trump. Now, NBCUniverseal has taken the same step. The network announced Monday that it’s ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump following the recent remarks he made about Mexicans during his presidential kickoff speech, where he referred to [...]

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Not even a week has passed by since Univision made the decision to cut ties with Donald Trump. Now, NBCUniverseal has taken the same step. The network announced Monday that it’s ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump following the recent remarks he made about Mexicans during his presidential kickoff speech, where he referred to illegal…

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Jeb Bush’s Questionable Business Deals http://themoderatevoice.com/206300/jeb-bushs-questionable-business-deals/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206300/jeb-bushs-questionable-business-deals/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:57:20 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206300 The Washington Post described many of Jeb Bush’s past business dealings in an article entitled, Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals In early 1989, seven weeks after his father moved into the White House, Jeb Bush took a trip to Nigeria. Nearly 100,000 Nigerians turned out to see him over four [...]

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The Washington Post described many of Jeb Bush’s past business dealings in an article entitled, Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals

In early 1989, seven weeks after his father moved into the White House, Jeb Bush took a trip to Nigeria.

Nearly 100,000 Nigerians turned out to see him over four days as he accompanied the executives of a Florida company called Moving Water Industries, which had just retained Bush to market the firm’s pumps. Escorted by the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Bush met with the nation’s political and religious leaders as part of an MWI effort to land a deal that would be worth $80 million…

Today, as he works toward his run at the White House, Bush touts his business experience as a strength that gives him the skills and savvy to serve as the nation’s chief executive. He has said he “worked my tail off” to succeed. As an announced candidate, Bush soon will be making financial disclosures that will reveal recent business successes and show a substantial increase in his wealth since he left office as Florida governor in 2007, individuals close to the candidate told The Post.

But records, lawsuits, interviews and newspaper accounts stretching back more than three decades present a picture of a man who, before he was elected Florida governor in 1998, often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk.

Years after Bush’s visit to Nigeria, MWI was found to have made dozens of false claims to the U.S. government about its dealings in Nigeria, according to a civil jury verdict in a case brought by the Justice Department. MWI has denied the allegations and appealed the verdict. Bush was not a party to the lawsuit.

Five of his business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. In each case, Bush said he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and said some of the people he met as a businessman in Florida took advantage of his naiveté…

Bush’s business activities and missteps have been widely covered over the years, by the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones magazine and other publications, along with books by political scientists and journalists…

There is nothing as flagrant as the actions of Bill and Hillary Clinton when Hillary was Secretary of State, but plenty to wonder about. If nothing else, don’t pay any attention if Jeb claims his skills as a businessman qualifies him to be president. The only “skill” Jeb has shown has been in picking which family to be born into.

In other political news today, H. A. Goodman wrote at The Huffington Post,Why Bernie Sanders Will Become the Democratic Nominee and Defeat Any Republican in 2016. It might be optimistic to predict at this point that Sanders will become the Democratic nominee, but I would far rather see this scenario than to risk going into the general election with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee, which places us at a far greater risk of winding up with someone like Jeb Bush or another Republican as the next president.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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The 2015 Warrior Games: A Showcase of Perseverance, Sheer Will, Fighting Spirit and Achievement – Part I http://themoderatevoice.com/206290/the-2015-warrior-games-a-showcase-of-perseverance-sheer-will-fighting-spirit-and-achievement-part-i/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206290/the-2015-warrior-games-a-showcase-of-perseverance-sheer-will-fighting-spirit-and-achievement-part-i/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:58:07 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206290 The Defense Department’s 2015 Warrior Games concluded yesterday at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The Annual Warrior Games — an “Olympic-style spectacle” — where our warrior-athletes compete in a wide variety of games of skill “not too different from the ‘arts of war,’” have been made “a priority in the years since American forces became [...]

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2015 DoD Warrior Games

The Defense Department’s 2015 Warrior Games concluded yesterday at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

The Annual Warrior Games — an “Olympic-style spectacle” — where our warrior-athletes compete in a wide variety of games of skill “not too different from the ‘arts of war,’” have been made “a priority in the years since American forces became engaged in and bore the costs of two long 21st-century wars.”

“Archery and shooting, cycling and swimming, track and field, volleyball and basketball events display the strength, stamina, balance, spatial awareness, muscular control and sheer will that power top professional athletes as well as successful service members.”

Related to the Military Adaptive Sports Program (MASP), it helps “service members — primarily those who served and were wounded, injured or became ill during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — in regaining ‘quality of life.’”:

According to its official website, the program, known as MASP, is designed to engage wounded, ill and injured service members early in individualized physical and cognitive activities outside of traditional therapy settings. The program’s stated goal is “to inspire recovery and physical fitness and encourage new opportunities for growth and achievement.

A total of 250 warrior-athletes from the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and the United Kingdom (which sponsors the “Invictus Games”) competed for medals in eight sporting events, June 19-28.

Because of travel and other commitments, I have not been covering these events as in past years.

There are so many inspiring images of these warriors competing that it has been difficult to select a representative number of them.

Even the limited number of selected photos — all taken by the various military Services — would be too many to be posted in one single article. This is the first “showcase” of two.

While some photos indicate winners in some of the events, they are All Winners.

Enjoy and be inspired.

All captions are by the Services.

2015 Department Of Defense Warrior Games

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith puts all his energy into his second throw of the day during the men’s shot put competition at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

Athletes participating in the 2015 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games take a photo with congressmen during a tour of the U.S. Capitol

Military athletes participating in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games pose for a photo with U.S. representatives during a tour of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 24.

All-Marine Team wins wheelchair basketball gold

Marine Corps veteran Ray Hennagir prepares to shoot the ball during the wheelchair basketball championship game on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015. Hennagir is a member of the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games All-Marine Team

2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games Track Finals

United Kingdom’s Gareth Golightly races a wheelchair during the track competition on the final day of the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 28, 2015

2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games swimming finals

Marine Corps Cpl. Marcus Chischilly dives into the water during the swimming finals at the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center in Manassas, Va., June 27, 2015, as part of the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

150628-N-FS436-034

U.S. Navy veteran Petty Officer 3rd Class Redmond Ramos pushes off strong to run in the men’s 200-meter dash. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Joe Scannell)

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Medically retired Army Staff Sgt. Randi Gavell serves during the volleyball match for the gold medal against the Air Force during the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 28, 2015. The Army team earned the gold medal in a three-game match. DoD photo by Shannon Collins

2015 DoD Warrior Games

Medically retired Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sarah Rudder runs the 100-meter sprint during the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Terry W. Miller Jr.

Lead photo: U.S. and British athletes compete in the 100-meter sprint at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

Reference: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=129178

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Supreme Court Temporarily Stays Texas Abortion Restrictions http://themoderatevoice.com/206289/supreme-court-temporarily-stays-texas-abortion-restrictions/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206289/supreme-court-temporarily-stays-texas-abortion-restrictions/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:40:18 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206289 A Texas law placing restrictive conditions on clinics performing abortions has been temporarily stayed by the U. S. Supreme Court according to news reports. If allowed to be implemented, it is believed that the restrictions would have closed more than half of Texas’s abortion providers by requiring strict hospital standards for clinics and requiring admitting [...]

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A Texas law placing restrictive conditions on clinics performing abortions has been temporarily stayed by the U. S. Supreme Court according to news reports. If allowed to be implemented, it is believed that the restrictions would have closed more than half of Texas’s abortion providers by requiring strict hospital standards for clinics and requiring admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had allowed the restrictive Texas statute to stand in an earlier decision. The Supreme Court granted the stay to allow pro-choice advocates to file a request for hearing before the high court. Because the Court is now in recess until this fall, the clinics will likely get a reprieve of at least several months before the Court decides whether to take the case. It is being reported that Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the Court’s liberals to provide the 5-4 vote for the stay.

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SCOTUS Says Lethal Injection Cocktail Is OK With Them http://themoderatevoice.com/206288/scotus-says-lethal-injection-cocktail-is-ok-with-them/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206288/scotus-says-lethal-injection-cocktail-is-ok-with-them/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:40:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206288 The case is Glossip v. Gross out of Oklahoma. Readers may recall several botched executions recently, one of which was in the Sooner State. This resulted in other executions being stayed and this case coming before the Supreme Court. As background, lethal injection involves a three drug cocktail, given intravenously. The first drug is designed [...]

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The case is Glossip v. Gross out of Oklahoma. Readers may recall several botched executions recently, one of which was in the Sooner State. This resulted in other executions being stayed and this case coming before the Supreme Court.

As background, lethal injection involves a three drug cocktail, given intravenously. The first drug is designed to render the prisoner unconscious. The second drug creates a state of paralysis. The third induces cardiac arrest. It is the first of the three drug cocktail that is at issue.

Oklahoma had used thiopental to induce unconsciousness, but the Italian manufacturer quit supplying it for use in executions. The state then turned to a Danish company to acquire pentobarbital for the same purpose, but that manufacturer also refused to supply for executions. Oklahoma then turned to midazolam, which may or may not cause a fully unconscious state. That is the drug at issue in this decision.

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito found that the Petitioners failed to present evidence of a less painful alternative and failed to prove that the new cocktail presented a substantial risk of severe pain during execution. The reasoning from the majority opinion:

Our decisions in this area have been animated in part by the recognition that because it is settled that capital punishment is constitutional, “[i]t necessarily follows that there must be a [constitutional] means of carrying it out.” … And because some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution, we have held that the Constitution does not require the avoidance of all risk of pain. … After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether.

Alito notes that anti-death penalty advocates are largely responsible for shutting off the supply of thiopental and pentobarbital. Sotomayor’s dissent counters that the proposition that petitioners should devise a less painful means of their own death as a prerequisite to challenging the existing protocol defies reason.

Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Ginsburg, files the more interesting dissent in which they challenge Alito’s assertion that it is settled that capital punishment is constitutional. The death penalty was reinstated in 1976 in Gregg v. Georgia, with the understanding that it would be fairly and constitutionally implemented. Breyer, with Ginsburg, takes the position that the changes since 1976 have not achieved those goals.

Today’s administration of the death penalty involves three fundamental constitutional defects: (1) serious unreliability, (2) arbitrariness in application, and (3) unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose.

Unreliability is a reference to the possibility of innocent persons receiving the death penalty or actually being executed. Breyer lists several examples of actual innocents being executed, including two who were posthumously pardoned. One was not in the city where the murder took place at the time of the murder (but with an IQ of only 46 he was unable to properly explain that to defense counsel). In the other, the murder victim, who had gone to Mexico to avoid a shotgun wedding, turned up alive and well after the man convicted of murdering him had already been executed.

Breyer cites data that shows 115 exonerations in cases where there was a sentence of death since 1976, all based on actual innocence, including 6 in 2014 alone. From his dissent, “[R]esearchers estimate that about 4% of those sentenced to death are actually innocent.”

The question of arbitrariness in application is one of the faults the Gregg case hoped to solve when it reinstated the death penalty. Breyer points out that this has not happened. This makes the death penalty capricious and arbitrary, contrary to the constitutional requirement that it not only avoid cruelty, but that it also not be unusual. He quotes Justice White from Furman v. Georgia in 1972:

“[T]he death penalty is exacted with great infrequency even for the most atrocious crimes and . . . there is no meaningful basis for distinguishing the few cases in which it is imposed from the many cases in which it is not”.

My favorite example comes from the two counties in Oregon, separated by a river. In one county the District Attorney regularly sought the death penalty. The other county’s DA opposed the death penalty and would never file capital charges. In other words, whether a murderer was at risk of receiving the death penalty depended on which side of the river the murder occurred on.

Breyer also observes that getting the death penalty and being executed today is about as predictable as being struck by lightning. He goes on to point out that 30 of the 50 states have either outlawed the death penalty (19) or haven’t had an execution in more that 8 years (11).

This decision was 5-4, along the usual lines. Sotomayor and Kagan, while dissenting, did not challenge the constitutionality of capital punishment. That Breyer and Ginsburg did so is remarkable. Perhaps there is a chink in the armor that can be explored further if this, or a future president, should be able replace one pro-death judge with one who has an open mind on capital punishment.

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TMV Emergency Fundraiser ENDS TOMORROW http://themoderatevoice.com/205835/tmv-emergency-fundraiser-tmv-needs-your-help-1000-goal/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205835/tmv-emergency-fundraiser-tmv-needs-your-help-1000-goal/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:55:52 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205835 NOTE: Our fundraiser formally ends tomorrow (but TMV welcomes donations all the time). The total put in the bank is $1,180 as of today June 29. This post will vanish into the archives after it’s redated and put on tomorrow’s blog. Kindly read it again: TMV could use some individuals, groups, etc who like it [...]

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NOTE: Our fundraiser formally ends tomorrow (but TMV welcomes donations all the time). The total put in the bank is $1,180 as of today June 29. This post will vanish into the archives after it’s redated and put on tomorrow’s blog. Kindly read it again: TMV could use some individuals, groups, etc who like it who’d like to donate. If our page views go up the next year or two, we can then look into a new upgrade or add more features.

The Moderate Voice has done fundraisers very sparingly. We recently asked readers help to to raise money for a specific goal: $1000. (NOTE: This fundraiser will officially END soon. Any donations we get now will help TMV had a reserve in a time when ad revenues have greatly shrunk.)

This goal has been reached and all donations so far are now in the business account used for TMV. Several donations are going to be mailed. We will keep this post up until June 30. Why? With the exception of two instances over the years, TMV hasn’t had any really big donors. Its money comes from unsolicited donations throughout the year and from ads, which have been problematic as some companies TMV had as advertisers went out of business. Site administrator Tyrone Steels carefully looks into each ad request to see if we can do it, should do it, and to ensure it is legitimate. So the process of getting more ads takes time. Most big websites have lots of lucrative ads or big corporate or private donors. TMV has done just fine operating the way we do — so we are not complaining.

But the fundraiser will remain open in case some others want to donate. And then this post will vanish into the archives starting July 1.

At the end of last year TMV was faced with an emergency. This mean spending just short of $1000 to deal with it. Like many websites, TMV has been hit with declining revenues over the years so it has made a small profit — enough to keep it going but not enough to do more upgrades etc. There was no “big” TMV bankroll in our TMV account, so yours truly also used his own money. There was there was no intent to do a fundraiser until now.

Here’s how you can help, even though our goal has been reached:

1. DONATE by hitting the donate button to the right. But remember, our goal HAS been reached.


2. SPREAD THE WORD:
Do you know of an individual or group that likes TMV and would donate? A word of warning. That will not impact the posts we use or don’t use or the views on posts one iota. Years ago TMV had a donor who loved the site and donated regularly but did not like one coblogger who he considered too far right. He made it clear that person had to go. That person was NOT told about those emails or “warned” and we lost the donor. My attitude was: Oh, well. I myself disagree with many of the posts (on the right or left of me) on TMV.
3. Think about doing what one reader did: without our prodding, he set up a recurring donation of $10 each month via paypal, which will help in the longrun.

[The issue of checks has come up. Checks should be made out to the account that has been TMV's biz account since 2004 made out to Joe Gandelman, the account that pays for hosting, tech work, and a few special syndicated features. It's also where all ad revenues go.]

How is money from our fundraisers used? It has most often been funneled into our upgrades and redesigns. As soon as TMV’s donations reached $100, that money was sent to pay for some extra tech work that we’ve had to do on the site the past month.

Several years ago, right after a Presidential election when interest in politics and blogging was at its height, yours truly worked virtually fulltime on TMV and our hits went way up and some money went to that for that period. But that was a special case during a period of special interest.

If you want to do a snail mail check, please contact me. But the DONATE button allows you to donate via paypal or any credit card.

June 28, 2015 TOTAL RECEIVED SO FAR $1,180

June 27, 2015 TOTAL RECEIVED SO FAR $1,180

June 26, 2015 TOTAL RECEIVED SO FAR $1,180

JUNE 25, 2015 TOTAL: $1,170

JUNE 24, 2015 TOTAL RECEIVED SO FAR $1,120 (unchanged)

JUNE 22 and 23 2015 TOTAL: $1,120 (no new donations)

JUNE 20 and JUNE 21: TOTAL: $1,120

June 19, 2015 TOTAL: $1,120 — $1000 GOAL REACHED with several checks being mailed.

June 18, 2015 TOTAL: $910

June 17, 2015: TOTAL: $820

June 16, 2015 TOTAL: $565 UPDATE: $100 of this immediately went to pay for the tech work.

This fundraiser post will remain on top until the very end of June, in case others wish to donate to help provide a “cushion,” but the fundraiser will then end. TMV must stand or fall on its ad revenues and unsolicited donations, not fundraisers.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Greece in shock as banks closed after snap referendum call http://themoderatevoice.com/206286/greece-in-shock-as-banks-closed-after-snap-referendum-call/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206286/greece-in-shock-as-banks-closed-after-snap-referendum-call/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:51:35 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206286 By Karolina Tagaris and Michele Kambas ATHENS (Reuters) – Stunned Greeks faced shuttered banks, long supermarkets lines and overwhelming uncertainty on Monday as a breakdown in talks between Athens and its international creditors plunged the country deep into crisis. With Greece’s bailout expiring on June 30 and an IMF payment falling due at the same [...]

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By Karolina Tagaris and Michele Kambas

ATHENS (Reuters) – Stunned Greeks faced shuttered banks, long supermarkets lines and overwhelming uncertainty on Monday as a breakdown in talks between Athens and its international creditors plunged the country deep into crisis.

With Greece’s bailout expiring on June 30 and an IMF payment falling due at the same time, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pleaded by phone with European officials to extend the programme until a referendum on Sunday on its future terms.

The frantic efforts to secure Greece’s place within the euro zone followed a dramatic weekend. Tsipras’s decision, early on Saturday, to put the aid package to a popular vote took the lenders and some of Tsipras’s own negotiating team by surprise.

It also pushed Greece towards defaulting on 1.6 billion euros ($1.77 billion) due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday.

Greeks – used to lengthy talks with creditors before an eleventh-hour deal – were left shocked by the turn of events. Lines snaked outside ATMs and inside supermarkets while fears of disruptions to petrol and medicine supplies grew.

The breakdown has pushed the European Union and euro zone into uncharted terrain. Financial markets reacted badly on Monday, with European bank shares down sharply on worries of contagion within the financial system.

“I can’t believe it,” said Athens resident Evgenia Gekou, 50, on her way to work. “I keep thinking we will wake up tomorrow and everything will be OK. I’m trying hard not to worry.”

After months of talks, Greece’s exasperated European partners have put the blame for the crisis squarely on Tsipras for rejecting a package they consider generous. The Greek side says further austerity would simply deepen one of the worst economic crises of modern times in a country where a quarter of the workforce is already unemployed.

PERSONAL BETRAYAL

Emotions were unusually raw among Europe’s leaders. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he felt personally betrayed and told Greeks a “no” vote would point to a euro exit.

“I will say to the Greeks who I love deeply: you mustn’t commit suicide because you are afraid of death,” he told a news conference.

French President Francois Hollande appealed to Tsipras to return to the negotiating table and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was willing to talk to the Greek leader if he wanted.

The Greek government will keep banks shut at least until after July 5, the date of the referendum, and withdrawals from automated teller machines were limited to 60 euros a day when they reopened at midday. The stock exchange will also stay shut.

The creditors wanted Greece to cut pensions and raise taxes in ways that Tsipras has long argued would be counter-productive.

As Tsipras announced the closure of banks and the stock exchange late on Sunday, there were long queues outside ATMs and petrol stations as people raced to take out cash before it was too late. Lines formed at ATMs when they reopened on Monday.

“I’ve got five euros in my pocket, I thought I would try my luck here for some money. The queues in my neighbourhood were too long yesterday,” said plumber Yannis Kalaizakis, 58, outside an empty cash machine in central Athens on Monday.

“I don’t know what else to say. It’s a mess.”

“DRAMATIC HOURS”

As rumours flew, dozens of pensioners queued outside at least two offices of the National Bank of Greece <NBGr.AT> on Monday after hearing they could withdraw pensions from some branches. They were turned away, Reuters photographers said.

“I’ve worked all my life, only to wake up one morning to a disaster like this,” said one shop owner, who was there to collect his wife’s pension.

Despite the financial shock, parts of daily life went on as normal, with shops, pharmacies and supermarkets in the city opening and Greeks meeting to discuss their country’s fate at cafes and restaurants. Tourists gathered as usual to watch the changing of the presidential guard outside parliament.

A rally called by Tsipras’s Syriza party to protest against austerity measures and urge voters to say “No” in the referendum on bailout terms is expected later on Monday.

The referendum poses a simple question: “Should the proposal which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund at the Eurogroup of June 25, 2015 which consists of two parts that together consist of their comprehensive proposal be accepted?

The “No” box appears as the first option on top of the “Yes” box below. The government has urged Greeks to vote “no”, which it says will strengthen its hand at the negotiating table though analysts say that it will instead push Greece out of the euro.

The Economist Intelligence Unit predicted a no vote was more likely, raising the odds of a “Grexit to 60 percent.

(Additional reporting by Deepa Babington, Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, Yannis Behrakis and Alkis Konstantinidis; Writing by Matthias Williams and Deepa Babington; Editing by Anna Willard and Janet McBride)

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The acceleration of history http://themoderatevoice.com/206284/206284/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206284/206284/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:38:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206284 WASHINGTON — Sometimes history speeds up. Rarely in our nation’s 239 years of life has a single week brought such a surge of social change and such a sweeping set of challenges to past assumptions. The move against the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina quickly cascaded into a national effort to cast aside commemorations [...]

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WASHINGTON — Sometimes history speeds up. Rarely in our nation’s 239 years of life has a single week brought such a surge of social change and such a sweeping set of challenges to past assumptions.

The move against the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina quickly cascaded into a national effort to cast aside commemorations of secession, slavery and white supremacy. This was more than symbolism. It represented something bigger — the nation’s turn toward “thoughtful introspection and self-examination,” as President Obama said in his powerful eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney on Friday.

For years, the fact that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War was swept under a rug woven of heritage and battlefield glory. Confederate emblems that came into wide public use in the 1950s and 1960s in large part to protest racial equality and civil rights were treated as if they had always been there, representing a “tradition” kept vague enough to hide away slave labor, disenfranchisement and murderous night riders.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court decided, 6-to-3, to keep the Affordable Care Act whole. To go the other way, as Chief Justice John Roberts argued, would have violated any plausible understanding of what Congress had intended. Roberts’ reasoning was rooted, ironically, in the principles of interpretation put forward by Justice Antonin Scalia. This did not stop Scalia from offering a scalding dissent that gave the nation a vocabulary lesson when he condemned “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”

Yet if the King v. Burwell case was about a textual dispute, its implications were much broader. In principle, there are no irreversible changes in a democratic republic because everything is always subject to popular review. In practice, some reforms do become irreversible as they are accepted by overwhelming majorities as necessary and normal. Obamacare has not quite reached this point, but it is now on the road to joining Medicare and Social Security as fixtures of social policy.

And the next day the court made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Few legal cases have more dramatically demonstrated the complicated interaction of personal decisions, social movements, political struggles and judicial judgments than Obergefell v. Hodges. And on few issues has the American public so rapidly changed its collective mind. In Brown v. Board of Education, the court led public opinion. In Obergefell, the court followed it.

It’s plain how this happened: As individual gays and lesbians came out, more and more Americans realized that someone they cared about belonged to a group that had long been oppressed and stigmatized. Supporters of gay marriage mobilized these new allies, gradually winning victories in legislatures and referendums. These campaigns further turned opinion to the point where Justice Anthony Kennedy could discern a 14th Amendment right to equal protection that did not seem to apply just a few years ago.

“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times,” Kennedy wrote for the majority. “When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.”

Most Americans will agree with this. Despite my own qualms about judicial activism, I found myself cheering his logic and the result. A fair share of conservatives I know are privately happy that the court has begun to take the issue out of politics.

This does not make concerns about judicial activism disappear, and liberals should be candid: They cheered Roberts’ judicial modesty in the Obamacare case (“we must respect the role of the legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done”) and then criticized him for upholding a related principle in Obergefell (the majority, Roberts charged, “seizes for itself a question the Constitution leaves to the people”). Liberals — myself among them — have also taken Roberts to task on his own brand of judicial activism in tearing apart laws on campaign finance and voting rights.

Yet these inconsistencies also illustrate something conservatives need to recognize: that social movements, public opinion, the courts and the elected branches are not hermetically sealed off from each other.

And the core liberal conviction about the Supreme Court, developed during and after the New Deal years, still rings true: that the court plays its most constructive role in our national life when it uses its power to vindicate the rights of beleaguered minorities. This week will be remembered as a stunning moment when our institutions converged to accelerate our long, steady movement toward an ever more inclusive equality.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.
(c) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group


graphic via shutterstock.com

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Lone Star State Reacts Defiantly to Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage http://themoderatevoice.com/206282/lone-star-state-reacts-defiantly-to-supreme-court-ruling-on-gay-marriage/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206282/lone-star-state-reacts-defiantly-to-supreme-court-ruling-on-gay-marriage/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:05:29 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206282 Two days after the nation’s highest court struck down gay marriage bans in Texas and a dozen other states, the State of Texas defiantly reacts. In an “Opinion” addressed to “Dear Governor Patrick,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton concludes: County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections [...]

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Two days after the nation’s highest court struck down gay marriage bans in Texas and a dozen other states, the State of Texas defiantly reacts.

In an “Opinion” addressed to “Dear Governor Patrick,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton concludes:

County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.

The Austin American Statesman notes that Paxton’s opinion “was requested late Thursday by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, an ardent opponent of gay marriage who said he hoped to protect clerks who had religious objections to gay marriage.”

As to such “protection,” the Statesman adds:

Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added, “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.

While the opinion does not specify what constitutes a “sincerely held religious belief,” it notes, “the strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case,” according to the Statesman.

This is the rest of the text of Paxton’s opinion:

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court held in Obergefell v Hodges that there is now a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. No. 14-566 (2015). A federal district court for the Western District of Texas has now enjoined the State from enforcing Texas laws that define marriage as exclusively a union between one man and one woman. Before these events occurred, you asked whether in the event the Texas definition of marriage is overturned-government officials such as employees of county clerks, justices of the peace, and judges may refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies if doing so would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

1 In recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court acknowledged the continuing vitality of the religious liberties people continue to possess. Id. slipop. at 27 ( [I]t must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. ). In recognizing a new constitutional right in 2015, the Supreme Court did not diminish, overrule, or call into question the rights of religious liberty that formed the first freedom in the Bill Of Rights in 1791. This newly minted federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage can and should peaceably coexist with longstanding constitutional andstah1tory rights, including the rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of speech.

The opinion ends with the aforementioned “conclusion.”

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

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Politix Update: Fuggedabout The Here And Now, It’s All About The Legacy, Dude http://themoderatevoice.com/206171/politix-update-fuggedabout-the-here-and-now-its-all-about-the-legacy-dude/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206171/politix-update-fuggedabout-the-here-and-now-its-all-about-the-legacy-dude/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:57:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206171 The lineage of the term Obamacare pretty much tells you all you need to know about how history will view President Barack Obama. That is to say, what his legacy will be. In a (relatively) short five years, Obamacare has morphed from having a Republican-driven derogatory connotation to being an appropriate honorific for the man [...]

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The lineage of the term Obamacare pretty much tells you all you need to know about how history will view President Barack Obama. That is to say, what his legacy will be.

In a (relatively) short five years, Obamacare has morphed from having a Republican-driven derogatory connotation to being an appropriate honorific for the man who against formidable odds has finally brought meaningful reform to a vastly dysfunctional sector of the economy. Or more precisely, made a damned good start despite an obdurate opposition party that continues to believe that providing affordable health care to the poor and middle class violates Americans’ “freedom and liberty”.

Legacies are, of course, in the eyes of the beholder. While few people would begrudge George Washington and Abraham Lincoln their legacies as great presidents, the tenures of Richard Nixon and even Franklin Delano Roosevelt are too recent. And George W. Bush’s is still too raw.

Nixon’s legacy is mixed because beyond his constitutional criminality and stealth war in Cambodia were some notable accomplishments, including environment-friendly initiatives and laws, ending the draft and signing Title IX, while FDR will long be skewered by conservatives as the father of Social Security and big government and not for shepherding the U.S. through the Great Depression and leading the charge in beating back fascism.

Beyond Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act and now twice upheld by the Supreme Court, the president’s greatest legacies — amidst innumerable vicissitudes — may be to show that big government can work in an era when Washington is widely distrusted, if not detested, as well as his willingness to engage in costly political fights from the day he took office. Although not necessarily always the right ones, mind you.

People who naïvely believed Obama could settle the issue of race in America are bound to be disappointed, his tour de force eulogy in Charleston notwithstanding. But isn’t it a hoot that his legacy and that of Supreme Court Chief John G. Roberts Jr. are likely to be intertwined although they represent opposite ends of the political spectrum.

What impact might George W. Bush have on Obama’s legacy?

While Dubya left a hell of a mess and Obama cleaned up much of it, including dragging the nation out of recession and presiding over the most robust job growth in 15 years, as well as ending a war or two, historians are not likely to factor in those things in assessing Obama’s legacy. I tend to agree.

It is bemusing that Obama’s foes continue to paint him as unpatriotic when his love of country has been so obvious and his commitment to public service — from Southside Chicago community organizer to the first African-American president — has been a constant in his life. Both are guaranteed legacy builders as our more immediate memories fade with the passage of time.

When Obama commented on the iffy chances of the ACA passing on the eve of the make-or-break 2010 Senate vote, he quoted Lincoln in saying “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.” And when his signature achievement survived another near-death experience in the Supreme Court last week, he noted “That’s when America soars, when we look out for one another, when we take care of each other. That’s why we do what we do. That’s the whole point of public service.”

FEARING THE TRUMP BUMP

Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party since . . . well, George W. Bush.

Although the celebrity gadzillionaire has no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, his loud mouth is been increasingly viewed by GOP insiders is a serious obstacle to taking back the White House.

“Donald Trump is like watching a roadside accident,” said former Dubya press secretary Ari Fleischer. “Everybody pulls over to see the mess. And Trump thinks that’s entertainment. But running for president is serious. And the risk for the party is he tarnishes everybody.”

Trump is in eighth place among Republicans, according to the RealClearPolitics’ average of national polls. That puts him ahead of so-called serious presidential wannabes like former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, as well as former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. That also likely qualifies him for the first two GOP debates, which means taking away face time from so-called more serious candidates like Jeb Bush . . . er, Jeb!

Fleischer, who backs Bush the Younger and is a co-author of a Republican National Committee report on why the party got clobbered in the 2012 presidential election, said Trump embodies all of the party’s problems with nonwhite voters.

“He’s irresponsible, he’s divisive, he’s hurtful,” Fleischer said, inadvertently describing exactly why the GOP continues to marginalize itself nationally.

Trump has no intention of letting up on the personal attacks on other candidates and has eschewed the advice of advisers who want him to dump the vitriol, executive jets and helicopters and present a, shall we say, more humble image to voters.

“They [other candidates] should be worried about Donald Trump,” declared campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Indeed, Trump’s capacity to say outrageous things seems to have no limit, like blaming Jeb Bush for the Supreme Court decision validating same-sex marriage.

He reasons (pardon the term) that Bush, as Florida governor, helped his brother steal the 2000 election, his brother then nominated John Roberts to head the Supreme Court, and even though Roberts was on the dissenting side of the gay marriage decision, it’s Jeb’s fault anyhow.

Got that?

A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE

I have written that the Republicans seem to have a limitless capacity to bite themselves in the ass by staking out positions that come back to haunt them, whether in governance, in court decisions as we have recently seen, and at the ballot box in national elections. The modern-day GOP surely isn’t the first political entity to have a franchise of short-sightedness, but I cannot think of a comparable situation in American political history. Can you?

I’d appreciate your help and insight for a future post on the subject. You can leave a comment or email me at kikokimba@gmail.com. Thank you in advance.

Politix Update is an irregular compendium written by veteran journalist Shaun Mullen, for whom the 2016
presidential campaign is his (gasp!) 12th since 1968. Click here for an index of previous
Politix Updates.

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Eastern Washington town threatened by wild fire http://themoderatevoice.com/206278/eastern-washington-town-threatened-by-wild-fire/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206278/eastern-washington-town-threatened-by-wild-fire/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:07:20 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206278 2:05 am Pacific A fire that started around 2:30 p.m. in 108 degree heat on Sunday threatens homes and businesses in Wenatchee, WA. My initial photos from the brush fire threatening 60 homes near Sunnyslope https://t.co/jUcfMK2YBW #wenworld pic.twitter.com/NsavuKX9u5 — Reilly Kneedler (@reillykneedler) June 29, 2015 The #SleepyHollowFire has spread to more than 1,800 acres. According [...]

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A fire that started around 2:30 p.m. in 108 degree heat on Sunday threatens homes and businesses in Wenatchee, WA.

The #SleepyHollowFire has spread to more than 1,800 acres. According to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, dozens of homes and businesses have gone up in smoke. More than 200 have been urged to evacuate.

The state is suffering a record drought, with snow pack at 0% of normal. Gov Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency on May 15, 2015.

Wenatchee is about 140 miles east of Seattle.

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Wildfire featured image via Wikipedia.

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One Man and One Woman? http://themoderatevoice.com/206275/one-man-and-one-woman/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206275/one-man-and-one-woman/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 03:01:42 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206275 The Republicans are constantly saying that it is God’s will that marriage be between one man and one woman.  How do they know this?  Juan Cole gives these Republicans a lesson in Bible History.  That marriage should be between one man and one woman is never mentioned in the Bible and in fact polygamy was [...]

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shutterstock_290891633The Republicans are constantly saying that it is God’s will that marriage be between one man and one woman.  How do they know this?  Juan Cole gives these Republicans a lesson in Bible History.  That marriage should be between one man and one woman is never mentioned in the Bible and in fact polygamy was the norm in the old testament and common among early Christians.

But wackiest of all is the idea that the Bible sees marriage as between one man and one woman. I don’t personally get how you could, like, actually read the Bible and come to that conclusion (see below). Even if you wanted to argue that the New Testament abrogates all the laws in the Hebrew Bible, there isn’t anything in the NT that clearly forbids polygamy, either, and it was sometimes practiced in the early church, including by priests. Josephus makes it clear that polygamy was still practiced among the Jews of Jesus’ time. Any attempt to shoe-horn stray statements in the New Testament about a man and a woman being married into a commandment of monogamy is anachronistic. Likely it was the Roman Empire that established Christian monogamy as a norm over the centuries. The Church was not even allowed to marry people until well after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, since it was an imperial prerogative.

He provides us with some examples:

1. In Exodus 21:10 it is clearly written of the husband: “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” This is the same rule as the Qur’an in Islam, that another wife can only be taken if the two are treated equally.
2. Let’s take Solomon, who maintained 300 concubines or sex slaves. 1 Kings 11:3: “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.” Led him astray! That’s all the Bible minded about this situation? Abducting 300 people and keeping them immured for sex? And the objection is only that they had a lot of diverse religions and interested Solomon in them? (By the way, this is proof that he wasn’t Jewish but just a legendary Canaanite polytheist). I think a settled gay marriage is rather healthier than imprisoning 300 people in your house to have sex with at your whim.

He has other examples.  So the current crop of holier than thou Republican candidates and lawmakers need to take some time to you know actually read the Bible.  Unfortunately the same applies to many members of the Christian clergy.

Image Via Shtterstock

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Two More Statements Made By Hillary Clinton About Her Deletion Of Email Found To Be False http://themoderatevoice.com/206272/two-more-statements-made-by-hillary-clinton-about-her-deletion-of-email-found-to-be-false/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206272/two-more-statements-made-by-hillary-clinton-about-her-deletion-of-email-found-to-be-false/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 23:52:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206272 The past week was notable for two major liberal decisions from the Supreme Court. With all the major news, it might have been easy not to notice that, as reported by The New York Times and other news outlets, two more statements made by Clinton regarding the email scandal have been shown to be incorrect. [...]

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The past week was notable for two major liberal decisions from the Supreme Court. With all the major news, it might have been easy not to notice that, as reported by The New York Times and other news outlets, two more statements made by Clinton regarding the email scandal have been shown to be incorrect.

When it was revealed that Hillary Clinton had deleted email on her private server, the modern equivalent if Richard Nixon had destroyed the Watergate tapes, she claimed that she had only destroyed personal email. There was considerable skepticism regarding this at the time, and it has now been confirmed that this was not true. She failed to turn over email regarding Libya:

Her longtime confidant and adviser Sidney Blumenthal, responding two weeks ago to a subpoena from the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, gave it dozens of emails he had exchanged with Mrs. Clinton when she was in office. Mr. Blumenthal did not work at the State Department at the time, but he routinely provided her with intelligence memos about Libya, some with dubious information, which Mrs. Clinton circulated to her deputies.

State Department officials then crosschecked the emails from Mr. Blumenthal with the ones Mrs. Clinton had handed over and discovered that she had not provided nine of them and portions of six others.

If fifteen emails we know about are missing or incomplete, how many others that we have no way to know about bight be missing or have been edited?

Clinton also claimed that the email from Blumenthal regarding Libya was unsolicited but the email turned over from Blumenthal showed she was corresponding with him and soliciting the information from him. Her email included exchanges such as, “Another keeper — thanks and please keep ‘em coming” and “This strain credulity based on what I know. Any other info about it?”

When Hillary Clinton was made Secretary of State there was tremendous concern, from members of both parties, about the conflicts of interest this entails. Two rules were established to attempt to prevent conflicts of interest. The first applied to all cabinet officials after the email scandals of the Bush years (which Clinton included in her attacks on the Bush administration for shredding the Constitution). To increase transparency, rules were established by the Obama administration in 2009 for all email to be archived on government servers. Clinton violated this, and used the private server to keep information both from Congress and the media. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable. An ambassador under Clinton was even fired with failure to abide by rules related to not using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here). Buzzfeed has obtained email showing that the top lawyer for the National Archives also expressed concern over Clinton’s use of a private server.

After Clinton’s press conference about the email scandal, news media fact checkers showed ares in which she was lying, especially with her claim of not breaking the rules. AP subsequently also found that her claim about not wanting to use two devices out of convenience did not hold up as she was actually using two devices for email when Secretary of State.

A second rule which applied exclusively to Hillary Clinton’s situation was that the contributions to the Clinton Foundation be disclosed. Hillary Clinton agreed to this, but failed to abide by the agreement and did not disclose over a thousand donors. The Foundation also failed to disclose many of these on their tax forms and was caught lying about this issue.

We also know that Bill Clinton saw an unprecedented increase in payments for giving speeches when Hillary became Secretary of State from organizations and countries which subsequently received favorable intervention from Clinton. His speaking fees jumped from 150,000 to typically 500,000, and as high as 750,000. Contributions to the Clinton Foundation raise similar ethical concerns.

Updates:

In related news, while Clinton slams Republicans for their views on same-sex marriage following the Supreme Court decision, acting like she was for marriage equality all along, Gawker reminds us of when Hillary was against same-sex as recently as 2013.

H. A. Goodman at Huffington Post writes, It’s Official — Bernie Sanders Has Overtaken Hillary Clinton In the Hearts and Minds of Democrats. There is one mistake when he says “Sanders has supported the issue of gay marriage since 2000.” He has actually opposed laws restricting sexual activity, including homosexuality, since at least the 1970′s. He also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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SciFi Weekend: Hannibal Canceled By NBC; Humans Premieres; Catastrophe And Other Summer Television Choices; Death Of An Avenger; Another Superhero Crossover; Heroes Reborn http://themoderatevoice.com/206270/scifi-weekend-hannibal-canceled-by-nbc-humans-premieres-catastrophe-and-other-summer-television-choices-death-of-an-avenger-another-superhero-crossover-heroes-reborn/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206270/scifi-weekend-hannibal-canceled-by-nbc-humans-premieres-catastrophe-and-other-summer-television-choices-death-of-an-avenger-another-superhero-crossover-heroes-reborn/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 23:47:24 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206270 This season forth episode of Hannibal, Aperitivo, dealt more with aftermath of the second season finale. The biggest surprise was that Dr. Chilton is alive, and out for revenge against Hannibal. It even turned out that many of the lines initially shown to occur between Will and Abigail earlier in the season actually happened when [...]

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Hannibal Aperitivo

This season forth episode of Hannibal, Aperitivo, dealt more with aftermath of the second season finale. The biggest surprise was that Dr. Chilton is alive, and out for revenge against Hannibal. It even turned out that many of the lines initially shown to occur between Will and Abigail earlier in the season actually happened when Chilton visited Will in the hospital. Chilton also compared notes with Mason Verger on making up their face–if you show yours I’ll show you mine. Jack and Alana are also both alive. Will confessed to Jack that he had called Hannibal hoping he would flee. Alana met with Verger, warned by Margot, “If my brother offers you chocolate, politely refuse.” Hannibal was not seen in the episode, but the the set up has now been completed to have each of these characters come after him.

This week NBC announced plans to cancel Hannibal after this season and there is a scramble to find a replacement network. There has been talk about both Netflix and Amazon but it does not sound likely that Netflix is much of a possibility due to the deal with Amazon to stream previous seasons. Hopefully Amazon will be interested in picking up the show. If not, The Food Network sounds like a good match.

Even if Hannibal is renewed, Bryan Fuller will have a reduced role due to becoming show runner of American Gods.

Humans

Humans premiers in the United States on AMC tonight but the first three episodes have already been shown on Channel 4 in the U.K. After downloading episodes I highly recommend it. Unlike far too much science fiction on television, this show is not satisfied with a clever idea. It handles both characters and plot well, and as a result is likely to be enjoyed even by people who do not normally watch science fiction. This review avoids major spoilers but those who want to be entirely surprised in watching the show might not want to read this before watching the first episode as some minor events are mentioned.

Humans looks at the implications of something which could really happen in the not so distant future. The premise is that synthetic humans, known as Synths, start doing our mundane work, both in industry and the homes. This leads to issues such as a wife, played by Katherine Parkinson, whose many television roles included Jen from the IT Crowd. I see a certain irony in her having played Jen, the computer-ignorant woman placed in charge of the IT Department, to now play a woman who is skeptical about the Synths. Her daughter questions the point in studying if Synths could do anything. A man with Alzheimer’s uses his Synth to help him remember the past. The twist is that his Synth is a first generation one, slated for replacement, which has memory problems of its own.

Naturally the sexual implications are also explored, including Synths used as prostitutes. In one scene Parkinson’s husband looked at the directions which came with their beautiful Synth for those 21+ , and in another scene his son received a warning about inappropriate touching.

Besides looking at the sociological ramifications of the Synths, the show is also a thriller. Some of the Synths are secretly self-aware and communicating with each other. Also, while most of the Synths act in a characteristic way, don’t be so certain that everyone who appears human really is.

Catastrophe

Incidentally, besides Humans, another recent show from Channel 4 has become available in the United States. Catastrophe recently became available on Amazon. Think of it as if Welcome to Sweden took place in the U.K. and was written by the people who wrote You’re The Worst. While not genre, it did include one genre reference. In one scene a character is wearing a shirt saying, “Where is Jessica Hyde,” referring to a genre show on Channel 4, Utopia. I have also watched Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell from the BBC beyond what has been available in the United States and recommend this miniseries based upon the book.

In other summer television news, Extant returns this week, reportedly with major changes from the first season. Under the Dome returned last week, but I have not had time to watch the two-hour season premiere. I also have not had time to watch Mr. Robot yet. Apparently Humans is about robots, but Mr. Robot only has humans and no robots. I have held off on watching True Detective following poor reviews. The first season was only worth watching, despite a weak plot, due to the excellent work by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Over on Syfy, Defiance is much better in its third season. I still couldn’t call it a must-watch show for science fiction fans, but if anyone has seen the first two seasons was undecided about watching the third I would say to go ahead. It is much better having eliminated some of the characters and bringing in a new big-bad for the season. I have not watched their other Friday night show, Dark Matter, after hearing from several people that it is awful.

Avengers BBC

The “original Avenger” has died. Patrick Macnee of the 1960′s British spy series, The Avengers, has died at 93. Initially the show is well known for the role played by Diana Rigg.

Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers might not be the only ones with a superhero universe including crossovers from other characters. Marvel Studios has The Avengers (obviously different from The Avengers pictured above. Warner has separate universes of DC superheroes both on television, and in with Justice League of America. 20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four, is rumored to be doing a crossover of these two franchises.

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks will be staring in the movie adaptation of The Circle, an excellent novel about current trends in social media going too far.

The Guardian looks inside Amy Schumer.

Joel McHale has been interviewed by Esquire, including about Community and his upcoming appearance on The X-Files. He has been predicting a Community movie but not a seventh season. #sixseasonsandamovie

A trailer has been released for Heroes Reborn:

Related Posts: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Over 500 Injured In Explosion At Taiwan Water Park http://themoderatevoice.com/206265/over-500-injured-in-explosion-at-taiwan-water-park/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206265/over-500-injured-in-explosion-at-taiwan-water-park/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:11:47 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206265 Very disturbing story. Warning that the video coverage is graphic.

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Very disturbing story.

Warning that the video coverage is graphic.

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Second Prison Escapee Reportedly Shot And In Custody http://themoderatevoice.com/206263/second-prison-escapee-reportedly-shot-and-in-custody/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206263/second-prison-escapee-reportedly-shot-and-in-custody/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:06:20 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206263 Multiple reports that David Sweat, the 2nd prison escapee in New York has been shot by authorities and is in custody. Here is a link to local coverage. CNN UPDATE: CNN has run a report that has this image which is now making its way around the Internet:

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Multiple reports that David Sweat, the 2nd prison escapee in New York has been shot by authorities and is in custody.

Here is a link to local coverage.

CNN

UPDATE: CNN has run a report that has this image which is now making its way around the Internet:

150628171540-01-david-sweat-cnn-bug-large-169 (3)

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U.S. Supreme Court v. Theocrats (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/206259/u-s-supreme-court-v-theocrats/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206259/u-s-supreme-court-v-theocrats/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:27:15 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206259 In its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to an attempt to turn the USA into a theocracy. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The reason why some people fought to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage is that such a marriage conflicts with their [...]

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11258-004-PANN (1)

In its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to an attempt to turn the USA into a theocracy. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The reason why some people fought to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage is that such a marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs.

It should not be surprising that there are Americans who would like the USA to be turned into a theocracy of their liking, and there is polling data that reveals such. Public Policy Polling surveyed 316 Republican primary voters from February 20th to 22nd of 2015 and released the results of that survey on February 24th.

One of the questions asked in the survey is this one: Would you support or oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion? Here is how the survey participants responded:

Support establishing Christianity as the national religion: 57%
Oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion: 30%
Not Sure: 13%

It be fair, it should be acknowledged that people who strive to conform to the New Testament’s teachings have a reason to be opposed to same-sex marriage. Clearly, the New Testament teaches that it is a sin for two people of the same gender to have sex with each other, and there is no biblical reason to believe that Jesus would have approved of that behavior. The false claim that Jesus would endorse same-sex marriage is based on a desire to serve two masters by conforming to the world.

Still, it is unconstitutional to use a religious test to determine if something should be legal or illegal, and states do not have the authority to violate the U.S. Constitution. The Court did its job and ruled in favor of more freedom in the process

Case dismissed.

David W. Robertson is a regular college-educated Joe who served in the military before working in manufacturing. Unlike preachers, lawyers, talk show hosts, college
professors and politicians, David has had to actually work for a living. Thus, he sees life and politics in the USA from a working person’s perspective. An amateur pundit, he has written for the political blog Wizbang, as well as for the now-defunct political blogs Ankle Biting Pundits and Lifelike Pundits. His own blogs are “Pax Deo” (http://paxdeo.blogspot.com/) and “The Melmacian Times” (http://melmacian.tumblr.com/). The “Wanted” posters say the following abouthim: “Wanted: A refugee from planet Melmac masquerading as a human. Loves cats. If seen, contact the Alien Task Force.”

Image Source: http://www.supremecourt.gov/images/slide/11258-004-PANN.jpg

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Obergefell v. Hodges: The Silent Judge ‘Respectfully’ Dissents (Updated) http://themoderatevoice.com/206248/obergefell-v-hodges-the-silent-judge-respectfully-dissents/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206248/obergefell-v-hodges-the-silent-judge-respectfully-dissents/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:15:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206248 Update: Read Richard A. Posner’s article at Slate where the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the 7th Circuit maintains that it “is very difficult to distinguish the [same-sex marriage] case from Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 invalidated state laws forbidding miscegenation Original Post: Much has already been said and written about what some [...]

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shutterstock_290917409

Update:

Read Richard A. Posner’s article at Slate where the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the 7th Circuit maintains that it “is very difficult to distinguish the [same-sex marriage] case from Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 invalidated state laws forbidding miscegenation

Original Post:

Much has already been said and written about what some call Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s “unhinged” eight-page dissent on the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.

Although not as colorful as his “jiggery-pokery” dissent on the “SCOTUScare” ruling, Scalia’s dissent on same-sex marriage does offer some interesting “insights” liberally (sorry, Your Honor) sprinkled among “Really?”, “Huh?”, “What say?” “whatever that means” and other Scalia-isms. Scalia’s dissent even offers “what may be the first legal citation of a hippie” by suggesting to “[a]sk the nearest hippie.”

After claiming that this momentous case “is not of immense personal importance to [him],” Scalia opines:

This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

That is, I suppose, the “freedom” to enslave a couple of generations of human beings, the freedom to — for another hundred years or so — deny their descendants and others who happen to be of a different skin color and of a different sexual orientation equal opportunity and the freedom to marry the person they love.

But, as I said, much has already been said and written about Scalia’s dissent.

However, another dissenter in Obergefell v. Hodges is a distinguished African-American member of our highest court who has rightfully benefitted from a number of U.S. Supreme Court rulings involving race discrimination and the rights of members of racial groups, including Loving v. Virginia.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom I refer to as the “Silent Judge” because his silence during Supreme Court proceedings is now legendary and whose silence has even been called “disgraceful,” is not “silent” this time — at least not in the written form.

Like Scalia, Thomas writes a lengthy dissent vigorously condemning the majority decision.

What is surprising about Thomas’ dissent is the fact that, had it not been for a Supreme Court decision in 1967 (Loving v. Virginia), his marriage to his wife, Virginia, would not be legal in some states.

In fact, Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, points to how “The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change” and how such changes “have strengthened, not weakened, the institution” and specifically mentions how Loving v. Virginia “invalidated bans on interracial unions.”

Kennedy also connects dignity (“individual dignity and autonomy”) to the same-sex marriage issue:

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Pp. 10–27. (1) The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs

But even more surprising is how Thomas mis-uses “dignity” and the shame of slavery to justify and support his dissenting opinion.

Pooh-poohing the majority’s opinion that this historic decision “will advance the ‘dignity’ of same-sex couples,” Thomas asserts that the Constitution contains no “dignity” Clause, “and even if it did, the government would be incapable of bestowing dignity.”

He continues:

. ..human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Say what?

The government may not be able to “bestow” life, freedom, “inalienable rights” or dignity, but it certainly can take them away or deny them as it does with capital punishment, as it did with slavery, as it did with segregation, as it did with inter-racial marriage laws and — with respect to dignity and equal rights — as Justice Thomas attempts to perpetuate with his “respectful dissent.”

Yes, Justice Thomas, the Court’s decision “will have inestimable consequences for our Constitution and our society,” but not in the way you narrow-mindedly envision.

Lead photo: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

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Cartoon: Same Sex Marriage http://themoderatevoice.com/206257/cartoon-same-sex-marriage/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206257/cartoon-same-sex-marriage/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 17:32:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206257 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Patrick Chappatte, Le Temps, Switzerland

Patrick Chappatte, Le Temps, Switzerland

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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In Charleston, ‘the power of God’s grace’ http://themoderatevoice.com/206255/in-charleston-the-power-of-gods-grace/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206255/in-charleston-the-power-of-gods-grace/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 16:51:09 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206255 CHARLESTON, S.C. — It is impossible to know whether the Charleston tragedy will someday be seen as a turning point in the nation’s long, difficult struggle with race. But we can hope. At Friday’s funeral services for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine men and women who were slain June 17 at historic Emanuel [...]

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — It is impossible to know whether the Charleston tragedy will someday be seen as a turning point in the nation’s long, difficult struggle with race. But we can hope.

At Friday’s funeral services for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine men and women who were slain June 17 at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, hope was very much in the air. But what was the alternative? The slaughter of innocents at prayer, allegedly by a young white racist who killed black people to make a point, was an act of monstrous evil. Despair is one way to process such an event; imagining that some measure of good can come of it the other.

The antecedent that Charlestonians often mention is the Birmingham church bombing in 1963. But only in retrospect did that that horrific act of racial terrorism become a pivotal moment in the civil rights struggle. Common reactions at the time were anger, fear and grim resolve.

But it’s not 1963, as evidenced by the fact that the president of the United States, delivering Pinckney’s eulogy, spoke with the cadences of an A.M.E. preacher, getting the rhythm so right that the organist began to ornament the sermon with little runs and arpeggios. President Obama even broke into a verse of “Amazing Grace” — and thousands of mourners at the College of Charleston’s TD Arena sang along.

For Obama, it must have been a dizzying several days. First there was the massacre. Then members of the victims’ families confronted the alleged killer with forgiveness. Then South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley sparked what looks like a definitive push by governments and businesses to get rid of the Confederate flag. Then the Supreme Court upheld a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act, securing Obama’s legacy. And then, just hours before Obama spoke in Charleston, the justices ruled laws prohibiting same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The theme of Obama’s eulogy was “the power of God’s grace,” which he said he had been contemplating all week. The killer at Mother Emanuel committed “an act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion.” The president added, “Oh, but God works in mysterious ways.”

The church, or rather the arena, said amen.

Obama went on to talk about the Confederate flag and a host of other issues — poverty, education, jobs, racial discrimination, criminal justice, police violence, voting rights, gun violence. But he spoke indirectly and metaphorically, using the language of the pulpit.

The president said that in recent days he has sensed a new openheartedness. That’s certainly the way Charleston felt to me. The city, and really the whole state, displayed a remarkable sense of unity and common purpose. The crowd at Pinckney’s funeral — and earlier, at a huge gathering on the soaring Ravenel Bridge — obliterated all racial and ideological lines. Mother Emanuel is being smothered with love.

This might be temporary, of course, and in any event isn’t fair. Nine people shouldn’t have to die before state officials realize the Confederate flag is offensive and before neighbors of different colors look each other in the eye as they pass on the sidewalk. Symbols, however potent, cannot be passed off as a substitute for substance. And however magnanimous the victims’ loved ones may be, society cannot forgive the Charleston killer or the hate groups that inspired him.

After a few choruses of “Kumbaya,” things tend to go back to the way they were. Is there any reason to believe that this time things will be different?

Anyone who went to Pinckney’s funeral at least has to entertain the possibility. As the Mother Emanuel choir gave a rendition of the gospel song “Goin’ Up Yonder” that would warm even the most frigid soul, I couldn’t help but think of the verse in Hebrews that says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” And that brought me back to the subject of hope.

Which, as I recall, is where Obama first came in — hope and change. There hasn’t been much of either emanating from the White House recently. But a confluence of events managed to infuse that Charleston arena with more of a sense of hope, and more of the possibility of change, than I’ve felt in a long time.

We have no choice but to find some way to understand the meaning of Charleston. So yes, let’s hope it opens hearts and minds. If so, then nine pious men and women will not have died in vain.


Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com(c) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group

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Change Is Hard http://themoderatevoice.com/206253/change-is-hard/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206253/change-is-hard/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 15:47:18 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206253 To quote myself: Humans evolve, their societies evolve and their language evolves.  Institutions must evolve with them or die.  Is this where the Republican Party is at today? In a fast-changing culture, can the GOP get in step with modern America? Across the cultural landscape, the national consensus is evolving rapidly, epitomized by this year’s [...]

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shutterstock_180902465To quote myself:

Humans evolve, their societies evolve and their language evolves.  Institutions must evolve with them or die.  Is this where the Republican Party is at today?

In a fast-changing culture, can the GOP get in step with modern America?

Across the cultural landscape, the national consensus is evolving rapidly, epitomized by this year’s convulsions of celebrity, social issues and politics — including the acceptance of Caitlyn Jenner’s gender identity, Pope Francis’s climate-change decree and the widespread shunning of the Confederate flag.

Then came Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. As rainbow colors bathed the White House and other landmarks in celebration, the entire field of Republican presidential candidates condemned the ruling.

This uneven terrain is now a key battlefield in the 2016 campaign, unnerving red America and fueling intense debate within the Republican Party about how to navigate such changes — or whether to adapt to the mainstream at all.

Europe evolved beyond the 4,000 year old societal teachings of the Old Testament decades ago but the United States has been slower.  That is changing rapidly but the Republican Party  is having trouble adapting thanks in part to it’s ties in the South.  The Republican base is still firmly entrenched in the mythology of war like tribal nomads in the middle east.  There are a few but perhaps too few Republicans that understand this.

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, said that speaking only to the base about issues of God, guns, gays and abortion isn’t enough to win. “Republicans need to recognize this and change the terms of the conversation — or they’ll pay the price for decades,” Brooks said.

One likely candidate trying to soften the party’s language is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who espouses what he calls “the kindness of conservatism.” A devout Christian, Kasich looks to the activist pope as a model.

In Iowa last week, Kasich advocated a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants — a lightning-rod issue in the Republican primary season. When he encountered an undocumented woman and her young son, Kasich said, “They are made in the image of the Lord.”

The Republican presidential candidates still must pander to the base to win primaries so they probably can’t win a general election since most of the country has left that base behind.  Church attendance as at an all time low and at least here in Oregon and there are a number of boarded up former evangelical churches.  Candidates like Mike Huckabee, who is even being mocked on FOX news, and Rick Santorum are laughed at in much of the country.  Yes, humans and their societies evolve and institutions that don’t evolve with them die.

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

 

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Cartoon: Supreme Court http://themoderatevoice.com/206251/cartoon-supreme-court/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206251/cartoon-supreme-court/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 14:38:19 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206251 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons

Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons

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‘Jewish Mothers’ Motivate Israel’s Soaring Start-Up Rate http://themoderatevoice.com/206249/jewish-mothers-motivate-israels-soaring-start-up-rate/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206249/jewish-mothers-motivate-israels-soaring-start-up-rate/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 14:29:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206249 Meeting with 15 journalists from top European economic and business media on a 4-day press trip to Israel last week, Yossi Vardi explained, “The secret of Israel”s entrepreneurial dynamism is that everyone here has a Jewish mother.”” The 72-year-old Vardi, known as the Guru of Israeli internet, and founder of some 60 successful Israeli high-tech [...]

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Meeting with 15 journalists from top European economic and business media on a 4-day press trip to Israel last week, Yossi Vardi explained, “The secret of Israel”s entrepreneurial dynamism is that everyone here has a Jewish mother.”” The 72-year-old Vardi, known as the Guru of Israeli internet, and founder of some 60 successful Israeli high-tech companies…

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My Man Godfrey http://themoderatevoice.com/206245/my-man-godfrey/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206245/my-man-godfrey/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 04:14:58 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206245 I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, My Man Godfrey with William Powell and Carol Lombard.  It was made in 1936 during the great depression.  It takes place in Boston where the old Boston families still have enough money to carry on there frivolous lives.  A “forgotten” man who lives at at [...]

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MV5BMTQ1NTAyMDgzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTQ1NzIwMjE@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, My Man Godfrey with William Powell and Carol Lombard.  It was made in 1936 during the great depression.  It takes place in Boston where the old Boston families still have enough money to carry on there frivolous lives.  A “forgotten” man who lives at at the dump in a packing crate enters the life of the wealthy Bullock family.  But this forgotten man is not what he seems, he is really Godfrey Park of the wealthy Boston Park family.  The Bullock daughters are participating in a scavenger hunt and one of them brings him to the hunt as a forgotten man and wins.

From there Godfrey becomes the Bullock’s butler and the Bullocks have trouble hanging on to butlers because except for the father the family is insane and impossible to please.  Godfrey sticks around and proves to be a very good butler but he has a problem – the younger daughter Irene falls in love with him.  Godfrey’s real identity is discovered when a wealthy friend of his comes to a party held by the Bullocks.  The Bullocks run into some financial difficulties but Godfrey had seen it coming and bails them out.

Godfrey quits his job as butler and opens a night club to employee all of the other forgotten men in his old homeless camp and supplies them with housing.  How ever his problems with Irene are not over.

This is a screwball comedy that takes place in a very depressing time and I highly recommend it.  BTW it was the first movie to receive Academy Award nominations in all 4 acting categories.

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Two Liberal Decisions From A Conservative Court http://themoderatevoice.com/206243/two-liberal-decisions-from-a-conservative-court/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206243/two-liberal-decisions-from-a-conservative-court/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 22:03:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206243 It has been a good week for liberal decisions form a conservative court. Yesterday, as I was certain they would, they threw out the absurd case against the Affordable Care Act. I’m not sure that this really changes anything. Conservatives will continue to complain about the law, but lack any effective way to repeal it, [...]

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Rainbow White House

It has been a good week for liberal decisions form a conservative court. Yesterday, as I was certain they would, they threw out the absurd case against the Affordable Care Act. I’m not sure that this really changes anything. Conservatives will continue to complain about the law, but lack any effective way to repeal it, and certainly have no alternative.

The case made no sense and if Roberts had wanted to destroy Obamacare he would have done so when they ruled on the individual mandate. In this case it isn’t so much that the Supreme Court has become more liberal, but that the Supreme Court is not willing to go along with every ridiculous case brought by conservatives. Earlier in the week, The New York Times showed that the court has made more liberal decisions this year. Brendan Nyhan followed this up discussing a reason why the court might appear more liberal when it is not:

In a 2009 article, the political scientists Kevin T. McGuire, Georg Vanberg, Charles E. Smith Jr. and Gregory A. Caldeira proposed a theory that provides an alternate explanation to liberal drift. They predicted that conservatives would press their luck to take advantage when they had a majority on the court, appealing more cases they lost in lower courts. (Conversely, liberals would be less likely to appeal cases because they were more likely to prefer lower-court decisions and to fear creating damaging precedents.) Mr. McGuire and his co-authors then showed empirically that this process increased the number of conservative reversals of lower-court rulings but also increased the number of cases in which a more liberal ruling was affirmed because litigants guessed wrong about how far the court was willing to go.

Their prediction seems to fit nicely with recent evidence. The court has reversed lower-court decisions and decided in favor of conservatives on high-profile cases concerning issues like campaign finance and voting rights. But Justice Kennedy and/or Chief Justice Roberts have joined the liberal wing to affirm more liberal lower-court rulings in cases like today’s decisions on health care and housing.

The case also did show a degree of sanity on the court in deciding against an argument which only bat-shit crazy conservatives(such as George Will) could accept. It also demonstrated that at least one justice was persuadable as it takes four justices to accept a case, and only three stuck with this argument in the end.

The decision in favor of same-sex marriage was also predictable but is far more significant. It really does change the status quo for those living in states where same-sex marriage has remained illegal. Andrew Sullivan returned to blogging to describe what this meant to him:

We are not disordered or sick or defective or evil – at least no more than our fellow humans in this vale of tears. We are born into family; we love; we marry; we take care of our children; we die. No civil institution is related to these deep human experiences more than civil marriage and the exclusion of gay people from this institution was a statement of our core inferiority not just as citizens but as human beings. It took courage to embrace this fact the way the Supreme Court did today…

I think of the gay kids in the future who, when they figure out they are different, will never know the deep psychic wound my generation – and every one before mine – lived through: the pain of knowing they could never be fully part of their own family, never be fully a citizen of their own country. I think, more acutely, of the decades and centuries of human shame and darkness and waste and terror that defined gay people’s lives for so long. And I think of all those who supported this movement who never lived to see this day, who died in the ashes from which this phoenix of a movement emerged. This momentous achievement is their victory too – for marriage, as Kennedy argued, endures past death.

This case also shows how the Republican Party has moved to the right while the nation has become more liberal on social issues. Compare the views of the Roberts Court with this year’s presidential candidates which are summarized at BuzzFeed and The New York Times.  Bobby Jindal has gone as far as calling for getting rid of the court. In 2004 Republicans successfully used proposals to ban same sex marriage to turn out the vote in their favor. While opposition might help some candidates in Republican primaries, it will also hurt them in the general election.

In 2013 I had posted a prediction from George Clooney which is far closer to coming true: “At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”

Originally posted at Liberal Values (with minor updates)

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Jeffrey Toobin on God and Marriage Equality http://themoderatevoice.com/206218/jeffrey-toobin-god-marriage-equality/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206218/jeffrey-toobin-god-marriage-equality/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 18:51:25 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206218 Jeffrey Toobin compares the marriage equality movement to inter-racial marriage in The New Yorker. God may reign, but He (or She) doesn’t legislate. The gritty business of passing laws is left to the people’s representatives, who answer, in the first instance, to their constituents, and defer, at least in theory, to the Constitution. The record [...]

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Jeffrey Toobin compares the marriage equality movement to inter-racial marriage in The New Yorker.

God may reign, but He (or She) doesn’t legislate. The gritty business of passing laws is left to the people’s representatives, who answer, in the first instance, to their constituents, and defer, at least in theory, to the Constitution. The record of politicians who claim, in anything more than a general way, to be doing God’s will is dubious. Too often, assertions of divine guidance spoken in state capitols (as well as in the Capitol) have turned out to be little more than bigotry dressed in clerical garb. This is why, at least in theory, we have a Supreme Court. In their best moments, the Justices apply the careful scrutiny demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment—for equal protection of the laws—against any government official’s clairvoyance about God’s intent. That is what happened in 1967, when the Supreme Court finally heard Loving v. Virginia and ruled that all anti-miscegenation statutes must fall.

 

The government confers a bundle of rights on individuals who choose to marry. The constitution’s guarantee of equal protection forbids any state from withholding those rights from the class of people who happen to be gay. End of story.

 

As it turns out, this argument is difficult to refute. The four dissenters in the case work themselves up, in varying levels of frenzy, in disagreement, but their position is also fairly simple to understand. They say that the issue of same-sex marriage should be left to voters, not to unelected judges. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote, in a seemingly Wikipedia-assisted dissent, “the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?” We think we are judges, Kennedy replies, doing our job to make sure that the law treats everyone equally.

 

Supporters of marriage equality have won the political and legal argument by such an overwhelming margin that opponents have chosen to conduct a religiously themed retreat into victimology. Their theory is that, by living in a society where there is marriage equality, their right to practice their religion is being violated. After the Court’s decision, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.” Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Governor and Presidential candidate, asserted that the decision “will pave the way for an all-out assault against the religious-freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision.”

 

We should be clear about the “liberty” interest being asserted here. Abbott, Jindal, and their allies are positing a right to discriminate—for local officials to refuse to conduct same-sex weddings, for photographers and bakers to refuse to do business with gay people, for wedding planners to advertise that no gay couples need apply. Their actions are the linear descendants of the Virginia officials who claimed divine guidance for their prohibition on interracial marriage. The First Amendment allows individuals to believe anything they want, but it does not allow them to use their beliefs as a license to discriminate in ways that would otherwise be limited by law. No one, at this late date, would claim a religious inspiration for a florist to refuse to sell flowers to an interracial wedding or for a magistrate to perform one; they should not have the right to refuse to do business for a same-sex wedding, either.

 

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2015/06/jeffrey-toobin-on-god-and-marriage.html

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Whoopin’ and a-Hollerin’ for the Plantation Life http://themoderatevoice.com/206241/whoopin-and-a-hollerin-for-the-plantation-life/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206241/whoopin-and-a-hollerin-for-the-plantation-life/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 18:00:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206241 Judge A. Joseph Antanavage, with shotgun in hand, stood before a modified Confederate battle flag, and looked as if he had planned to defend whatever it is that the Confederate flag stands for. But, this wasn’t in the South. This was at a pigeon shoot near Hamburg, Pa. Pennsylvania is not only where the only [...]

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Confederate Battle Flag, NPS

Judge A. Joseph Antanavage, with shotgun in hand, stood before a modified Confederate battle flag, and looked as if he had planned to defend whatever it is that the Confederate flag stands for.

But, this wasn’t in the South. This was at a pigeon shoot near Hamburg, Pa. Pennsylvania is not only where the only legal organized pigeon shoots still exist, but where it’s not unusual to see shooters waving the Confederate flag or wearing clothing that features the flag.

Pennsylvania is the Keystone state, the state where the Declaration of Independence was written, and the Articles of Confederation approved. It is where Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863, four months after the three-day battle led to 7,058 fatalities and 33,264 wounded, most with what would be life-long injuries. It is where the country heard that its Founding Fathers had believed, “all men are created equal.”

The beliefs of the Founding Fathers, even the few who owned slaves, have not been accepted by hundreds of thousands of Americans who are willing to tell anyone within voice range there are inferior races in America.

Those who defend that flag—the symbol of treason against the United States of America—say it is history, a part of the South’s heritage. But it is a symbol of defiance that should have died with the surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

But it didn’t die. It was invigorated by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, White Citizens Councils, and the declaration, “The South Shall Rise Again,” often spoken by men with guns and broken-down pick-ups.

The original battle flag, with the stars-and-bars, was square, and there were several variations. The rectangular flag became popular in the Reconstruction era, so the heritage dates not to the Civil War but to the era of racism.

The murder of nine Blacks at a church in Charleston, S.C., reignited the fires of hatred as well as a realization that the Confederate flag is a symbol of that racism. (Of course, while the nation is talking about a flag, they have conveniently overlooked critical issues of responsible gun control and civil rights.)

Nevertheless, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), following the murders, changed her view about the Confederate flag, padlocked to its staff and flying proudly on the statehouse grounds. During the 1960s, it was flown from on top of the state house, a symbol of protest to racial integration. In 2000, it was moved to a staff on the statehouse grounds, the result of a compromise by the Republican-controlled legislature and civil rights groups. Gov. Haley wants the flag removed. But, she needs a two-thirds vote of her legislature to do that. There are still legislators who, for the cameras say they oppose segregation but that the flag is a respected symbol of the South’s history.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans say they will fight to keep the flag where it is, flapping in the wind, high above the heads of Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and all minorities. They say it is their heritage. But, there are other ways to preserve a heritage. There are articles, books, and documentaries. There are plaques, statues, and museums. Some say they wave the flag because, like them it is a symbol of society’s rebel. But, the only thing they rebel against appears to be the rights of all people. Their defiance may hopefully relegate them to insignificant obscurity.

Georgia’s official flag, from 1956 to 2001, adopted as a defiant protest to civil rights, was dominated by the stars-and-bars before finally being replaced.

Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) ordered the Confederate battle flag removed from the Confederate memorial on the state Capitol grounds. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) wants to ban the confederate flag from the vanity license plates of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The Republican-dominated Mississippi legislature has no plans to modify its state flag. That flag has a replica of the Confederate flag in the corner where the American white stars on a blue field would be, and a blue stripe, a white stripe, and a red stripe in the area where the U.S. flag’s alternating red and white stripes would be. As long as Mississippi and the South continue to fly the battle flag, some of the more legitimate reasons for the South’s secession will forever be obscured by the racism of slavery.

Major retailers—including Walmart, Sears, Kmart, eBay, and Amazon—have banned the sale of flags and items with the Confederate stars-and-bars decorations. Apple has removed from its website and stores several games with the Confederate flag. Perhaps this should have been done decades ago, but for whatever reason they are doing it now, it is a good reason.

There has been a strong brush-back by Confederate sympathizers. Sales of the flag and flag-related items have increased in the past week at retailers that have more of an interest in profits than a moral conscience.

For southerners and other sympathizers who are offended that a symbol of racism and treason may not be available to them, there is an easy solution.

They can take a trip to northeastern Pennsylvania, home of the Civil War Fishing Creek Confederacy, which actively opposed the Union. In Summer, they can attend one of the largest monster truck rallies in the nation; in Fall, they can attend the state’s largest fair. Vendors will sell them a variety of Confederate battle flag trinkets, toys, and clothing. They can buy flags from vendors, put them on their trucks, drive down Main Street, whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ as if they were the ones who are entrusted with protecting white womenhood and the way of life that existed in ante-bellum America.

Or, if they can’t attend the rally and the fair, they might be able to spend a weekend at one of a half-dozen pigeon shoots, where they can dress like hunters, hold a shotgun meant to kill caged pigeons, and proudly pose in front of the rebel flag.

[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist and professor emeritus of mass communications. The latest of his 20 books is Fracking Pennsylvania, an overview of the environmental and health issues of horizontal fracturing, as well as the history, economics, and politics.]

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Obama will be remembered for “Amazing Grace” grief song moment (VIDEO) http://themoderatevoice.com/206238/obama-will-be-remembered-for-amazing-grace-grief-song-moment-video/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206238/obama-will-be-remembered-for-amazing-grace-grief-song-moment-video/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 17:11:23 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206238 Depending on who you talk to and the political lens through which they view the world, Barack Obama will go down as a highly polarizing figure, a transformative President or a combination of both – and these definitions will be said either with admiration or contempt. But here is one certainty: In years to come, [...]

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Depending on who you talk to and the political lens through which they view the world, Barack Obama will go down as a highly polarizing figure, a transformative President or a combination of both – and these definitions will be said either with admiration or contempt. But here is one certainty:

In years to come, one piece of video will be included in any biographies of Barack Obama. It’ll be the moment when he led the crowd at Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral in a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace”. Pinckney was one of 9 African-American church goers massacred at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was yet another moment that could have been private, but television turned a service in a geographically fixed place into a service throughout the American land. And many Americans across the country did grieve over the merciless and race-motivated act that snuffed out nine lives and created such terrifying last moments for the victims.

Obama had met Pinckney and — like most Americans — was battered by the brutality used and hate that motivated self-avowed 21-year-old racist Dylann Roof to butcher people with whom he had sat in the church for an hour, telling them in their last moments on earth that they had to die due to their skin color.

Because we live in a political culture where hate is the motivating factor, there will be indeed some who will say it was “staged” for political reasons with the same degree of actual proof as the Twilight Zoners who are now suggesting Obamacare was approved by the Supreme Court because Obama was blackmailing Chief Justice John Roberts.

But for the bulk of Americans of either or no party — and most assuredly for future historians — Obama’s response will be seen as saying something positive about his non-political, inner core. I sent this video to someone who nailed it: “I was very moved by this and posted it on my fb, even. This is a real man. Regardless of political tastes, one has to respect his courage and ability to show his heartfelt self. I expect great and greater things from him after his presidency.”

Watch the clip that will be shown for years in any non-print biography of Obama — a moment that transcends politics:






























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You won’t believe this about Donald Trump (Guest Editorial) http://themoderatevoice.com/206236/you-wont-believe-this-about-donald-trump-guest-editorial/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206236/you-wont-believe-this-about-donald-trump-guest-editorial/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 14:28:51 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206236 The most shocking news this week about Donald Trump isn’t that he offended Mexicans by calling them rapists or got his objectifying show “Miss USA” kicked off Univision, or that the pageant’s hosts both quit in a huff and one of them called him a clown, or that he subsequently banned all Univision staff from [...]

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The most shocking news this week about Donald Trump isn’t that he offended Mexicans by calling them rapists or got his objectifying show “Miss USA” kicked off Univision, or that the pageant’s hosts both quit in a huff and one of them called him a clown, or that he subsequently banned all Univision staff from his…

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Cartoon: Obamacare http://themoderatevoice.com/206232/cartoon-obamacare/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206232/cartoon-obamacare/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 14:26:21 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206232 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Milt Priggee, www.miltpriggee.com

Milt Priggee, www.miltpriggee.com

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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ObamaCare Blessed by Supreme Court – What to Expect Now (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/206227/obamacare-blessed-by-supreme-court-what-to-expect-now-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/206227/obamacare-blessed-by-supreme-court-what-to-expect-now-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 14:17:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=206227 ObamaCare Blessed by Supreme Court – What to Expect Now By Rick Lindquist, Co-Author of The End of Employer-Provided Health Insurance: Why It’s Good for You, Your Family, and Your Company On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of ObamaCare in King v Burwell. The ruling confirms Health Insurance Marketplaces in all states [...]

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ObamaCare Blessed by Supreme Court – What to Expect Now
By Rick Lindquist,

Co-Author of The End of Employer-Provided Health Insurance: Why It’s Good for You, Your Family, and Your Company

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of ObamaCare in King v Burwell. The ruling confirms Health Insurance Marketplaces in all states can provide premium tax credits to individual policyholders.

This decision is a huge win for small business owners and employees across the country. Since the passage of ObamaCare, small businesses have been saving up to 60 percent by giving money to employees to buy their own personal plans directly from insurance companies.

With the individual health insurance approach, instead of providing one group plan, a small business allows each employee to purchase his or her own personal plan independent of the company and provides a monthly allowance to cover the cost. Most small business owners and employees qualify for an additional allowance from the IRS to help cover the out-of-pocket health insurance costs. These additional allowances, called premium tax credits, were at the center of the above-mentioned Supreme Court case.

This decision cements the personal health insurance savings opportunity for small business owners and employees. With this decision behind us, let’s take look at what to expect in 2015 and beyond.

1. Congress will pass piecemeal fixes to improve ObamaCare

For the first time since the law was passed, both Congress and President Obama will now focus on passing piecemeal improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that make the law better for consumers and employers alike. We expect a flurry of new bills to be introduced in the coming months. Here are some easy fixes we expect Congress to target in 2015:

    Expand health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Congressmen and women on both sides of the political aisle agree small business owners should be able to offer health reimbursements arrangements to reimburse employees for health insurance premiums and medical expenses.

    Simplify employer IRS reporting requirements.
    There is unnecessary complexity in the structure of the ACA’s IRS reporting requirements. Congressmen and women on both sides of the political aisle agree that reducing the administrative burden on businesses will increase the number of firms offering employee benefits and reduce costs for everyone.
    Expand health savings accounts (HSAs). Congress can increase the value and utility of HSAs for retirees by allowing early retirees to use HSA funds to pay for health insurance coverage and by allowing Medicare-eligible retirees to pay for Medigap coverage with HSA funds.
    Modify the large employer shared responsibility requirement (“mandate”). We expect Congress to agree to change the definition of a full-time employee to 40 hours per week (vs 30), while at the same time adjusting the definition of large employers to only include employers with 100 or more employees. This would simplify the administrative requirements for both employers and the IRS.

2. Small businesses will transition toward individual health insurance
Today’s ruling solidifies that the individual market is the future of health insurance and will continue to be amended and improved. Small business owners, who are most affected by increasing premiums, now have the certainty needed to help transition themselves and employees to the individual market which we expect to increase to more than 100 million by 2025. We expect small businesses to continue to offer health benefits to employees in the form of monthly allowances (or “stipends”).

3. State exchanges will transition to HealthCare.gov

With access to premium tax credits upheld for all 50 states, we will see the states with state-run marketplaces transition to HealthCare.gov in the coming years. HealthCare.gov has the resources to operate and troubleshoot an online market that many smaller states could not properly fund or operate.

As of this writing, most of these states are considering legislation which would fold the state-run exchange into the federal marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Both Hawaii and Nevada have already decided to switch to HealthCare.gov. We expect other states to follow.

4. Healthcare reform will dominate 2016 elections

Although there is still room for Republicans to attempt a complete repeal of ObamaCare, these efforts would almost certainly be vetoed by President Obama. We expect Republicans to make the Affordable Care Act a central topic of debate heading into the 2016 elections.

Conclusion

Thursday’s decision has sent a clear signal around the country. The Affordable Care Act, and more specifically, individual health insurance, is on its way to being a core part of America’s health insurance system. How do you feel about this ruling?

© 2015 Rick Lindquist, CEO of Zane Benefits, Inc.

Rick Lindquist, President and CEO of Zane Benefits, Inc, is an American entrepreneur, author, and speaker. In 2014, he co-authored a book with Paul Zane Pilzer titled “The End of Employer-Provided Health Insurance” published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that is a bestseller on Amazon. Lindquist and the book have been featured on Marketwatch, MSN, Forbes, and Bloomberg. For more information please visit http://www.zanebenefits.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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