Saturday, May 31, 2014

On Climate Change, Republicans Turn Fence Sitting Into a Science All It's Own

Call it global warming or call it climate change, it is real and it is worsening.

what eye thynk:  With the latest reports from world scientists on the accelerating climate change crisis, Republicans find themselves in an awkward position.  If they continue to deny that global warming is real, they look like idiots.  If they accept the science and say we must do something about the crisis, they risk finding themselves standing alone against their party's anti-science orthodoxy.

Recently, however, it appears that the GOP message gurus have found a way for their members to balance on the fence while avoiding having to offer any opinion at all.  Their answer:  "We're not qualified."

Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott started the ball rolling by declaring himself unqualified to discuss climate change. 

The memo must have reached House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday when he voiced a similar view by saying, "Listen, I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change."  He went on to say that the upcoming environmental standards expected to come from the White House next week--standards that he has yet to see-- would hurt the economy. (Apparently, he needed no facts to declare himself qualified to voice an opinion on that issue.)

For years, Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republicans have called global warming a liberal fiction; and that, even if it were real, human activity has nothing to do with it.  I would assume that, in order to make those declarations, at least a few of them must have felt they had some knowledgeable grasp of the science involved.   Now, with new reports from scientists all over the world declaring climate change a worsening crisis and offering all sorts of additional facts to prove their case, GOP members want us to believe they are suddenly unqualified to form an opinion.  Only a Republican could equate more facts and more proof with less familiarity and less cognizance.

As one political pundit wrote this week, "One need not be a scientist to believe scientists. That may be politically inconvenient for the Speaker, but--and this is key--reality doesn't care."

It comes down to one simple fact:  trying to hide behind an "I'm not qualified to say if climate change is real" argument doesn't cut it.  You're supposed to be a leader.  If, as a leader, you declare yourself unqualified on a subject, then ask the opinion of someone who is qualified.  In this case, that would be a scientist.  That's why we have them.

And, if you find their work too taxing to comprehend, ask one of your many staff members to read the scientific reports and explain them to you in small words you can understand.  That's why you have them.

If you're still "not qualified", then we need smarter leadership.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Quick Note: Ohio's Republican Governor Gets His Own Bumper Sticker

I woke today to find myself still disgusted with Ohio's Governor John Kasich and how, two days ago, he sold Ohio to the Koch brothers.

You can read the details in my post from yesterday here: 

Then I came across this bumper sticker:

It says a lot about the way I feel about the man in Ohio's Governor's mansion.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Koch Brothers Called, Kasich Answered -- Ohioans Lose

In 2008, Ohio passed a bill requiring that 25% of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2025.  The bill passed with virtually no opposition and was signed into law by then Governor Ted Strickland (D).

Fast forward to 2014 and we find Ohio is now led by Governor John Kasich (R), whose party does not believe in the science of climate change.

On Wednesday, under Mr. Kasich's stewardship and with his personal assistance in negotiations, the legislature voted to freeze all regulations calling for a reduction in coal powered energy for two years while they study the issue of renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

what eye thynk:  Do Mr. Kasich and his anti-science cohorts expect us to believe that this issue wasn't thoroughly studied six years ago?  Or is it just that the original study didn't fit the facts as they want them to be?  

The Koch brothers have lots of money tied up in coal burning energy plants, and are always on the lookout for an anti-renewable energy cause to champion.  They were only too happy to focus their efforts and their money in Ohio this Spring; and Governor Kasich proved only too happy to bow to the alter of Koch dollars.  

And so Ohio Republicans have turned their backs on progress and voted to embrace the technology of a century 14 years in the past.  

Republicans would like us to believe this is about saving Ohio jobs, but the truth is that this freeze could actually cost the state the 25,000 jobs expected to be created as alternate energy companies move into Ohio.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board wrote: This "is more than a simple freeze; the bill also will chill what have been burgeoning alternative-energy investments in a state, and during a governorship, that aims to create Ohio jobs."

But "jobs" means taking care of the "little people"--those who work for a living.  Mr. Kasich has clearly shown that, under his watch, Koch money trumps "jobs for the little folk" in Ohio.

Everpower, a wind turbine company, is one company that has created jobs for Ohioans, but now sees those jobs in jeopardy under Mr. Kasich's governorship.  Everpower was lured to Ohio under the 2008 renewable energy bill.  The company gained approval for a proposal to build 176 turbines in the state with the plan to sell wind-produced energy to businesses.  Now that Ohio's Republican leadership has indicated to Ohio businesses that there is no imminent reason to make the change to renewable energy, Everpower's public policy officer Michael Speerschneider points out that it will be harder to sell the energy his company's turbines are getting ready to produce. "We came to Ohio based on the policies that were in place. Changing that now, freezing it, just sends a message that says 'Now we don't want you here anymore.'"

State Representative Robert Hagan (D) said, "As the rest of the country is moving forward on energy efficiency and independence, Ohio is moving backward.  Reversing our Renewable Portfolio Standards is completely irrational, and unfortunately Ohio consumers and businesses are the victims of the absurdity."

Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, Austin remarked on Ohio's step backwards: "The intellectual rhetoric around why you would want renewables has been lost and replaced by partisanship."

So, let's give a big hand to my home state of Ohio, where our governor is proud to have lead the Backward-Into-the-Last-Century Parade and to our legislators who followed him like ill-informed lemmings.   

At least the Koch brothers are smiling tonight.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eye Recommend --- GOP Sues for a Loophole to Raise Unlimited Money from Individuals

Reice Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...
"The Republican Committee filed a complaint on Friday to force federal election officials to allow the party to raise unlimited money from individuals, opening a new front in its legal battle on campaign regulation.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia by the national committee along with the Republican organization of Louisiana, would open a loophole in the 12-year-old law banning parties from raising unlimited checks from wealthy donors, unions and corporations, known as 'soft money.'"
The suit does not address the limits set on contributions from unions or corporations.  It asks only that the wealthiest among us be permitted to donate with no limit.  I guess they believe that if you're rich enough you should be able to purchase your own politician. 
"The suit does not challenge the ban on contributions from corporations and unions, though it leaves open the possibility of doing so later."
Because corporations are people too!  And no matter the amount of money in-pocket, it is never enough.
"Republican officials say the change would restore much-needed balance to the political playing field."
Say what?!  The playing field is already so weighted by the influence of big-money Republican donors that it teeters dangerously close to total corruption.
Super PACs are already free to raise unlimited funds for a party or a candidate. The GOP can, under current law, form its own PAC and legally raise unlimited funds.  The fly in the ointment here is that a GOP-run PAC could pay for ads and focus groups, but is supposed to be walled off from the day to day running of the party.  (That's the theory, but the restriction is only loosely warded.  The last campaign cycle saw Republican candidates working out of the same offices as their "independent" Super PAC.)
Now the Republican Party doesn't want to even pretend to live by the law.  They want direct access, with no limitations, to all the money they can get their hands on.
Welcome to the Era of the Robber Barons, 21st Century Style...where, if you can't pay, you don't get to play.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - The NaNaNaaa School of Empathy

Todd Kincannon
Former Executive Director of the 
South Carolina Republican Party

Posted to his Twitter account on May 25, 2014, one day after Elliot Rodger killed six people at the University of California's Santa Barbara campus:

"No idea how my son will die, but I know it won't be cowering like a bitch at UC Santa Barbara.  Any son of mine would have been shooting back."
His callousness and lack of compassion are breathtaking.

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26 - Monday Quote

A thought for this Memorial Day...

monday quote:  If you think it's too expensive to take care of veterans, then don't send them to war. (Senator Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The War in Iraq...the World View vs. the View of George W. Bush

what eye thynk:  On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember the lives lost in a war based on lies and fought to feed one man's ego...a man and his Party, both still blind to the harm they caused.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

February: Republicans Filibuster VA Healthcare Bill -- May: Same Republicans Outraged at State of VA Healthcare

This past week brought the story of U.S. military veterans dying while waiting for care at a Phoenix, Arizona VA healthcare facility and the falsifying of records there to hide the delays veterans suffered waiting for needed healthcare.

what eye thynk:  Every American should be outraged by the treatment our military veterans are getting, (or not getting) at our VA healthcare facilities.  These facilities are over-crowded and under-funded.  It is a disgrace.

But while Republicans see this as another issue with which to cudgel the President, may I remind them of this report from February 27 of this year:
"(Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget."
This bill would have funded the opening of 27 additional veterans' healthcare facilities to help with overcrowding and delays currently being experienced by our veterans--overcrowding that is being caused in large part by the huge influx of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Wars that, I'm sure I need not remind you, were embraced with great zeal, virtually no financial planning and not a lot of truth by the Republican Party and their war-mongering White House resident.)

Despite the fact that the bill had passed to the vote-yea-or-nay stage by a 99-0 count, when the hour came to actually vote yea-or-nay, Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), insisted that amendments regarding additional sanctions on Iran be added to the bill.  At the time, we were in touchy negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program and the President said that additional sanctions could deep six those negotiations.  

As Senator Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee said at the time, "The issue of Iran sanctions...has nothing to do with the needs of veterans."  But asking for a moratorium on sanctions was apparently akin to waving a red cape in front of a bull.  Republicans immediately saw it as a "must have" option and damn the consequences.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) refused to allow the amendment to be added. 

Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) then raised budget concerns which forced another procedural vote to waive budget rules: "This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend.  The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again." The new procedural vote failed by a vote of 56-41, with only 4 Republicans voting in favor.  With that procedural vote failure, the veterans' healthcare bill could not be presented to the full Senate for a vote: it was effectively killed by another Republican filibuster.

Now, Republicans are outraged.  And while they have every right to join the rest of us in expressing that outrage, they also must accept a large part of the responsibility.  Refusing to vote additional funds for an over-taxed veterans' healthcare system puts you squarely  in the high-beam headlights of, at the very least, shared blame.  

So, while we're thanking of our veterans on this Memorial Day weekend, Republicans might take the time to look at themselves and, instead of standing on their red soapbox and pointing fingers at the President sitting on his blue White House seat, think about how they need to join with Democrats and fix this disgraceful problem.  If it adds a little to the deficit, we should be willing to live with that.  After all, some veterans are living with a lot worse.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Slapping a Wounded Veteran

Fox News Contributor Allen West

Allen West                       Rep. Tammy Duckworth

Representative  Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) has been appointed to join the Republican led "special/select" committee to re-(re-re-re)-investigate the tragedy in Benghazi.

Appearing on The Janet Mefferd Show, Mr. West indicated that he is displeased.  "I just don't know where her loyalties lie.  You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing.  And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party."
As we begin the Memorial Day weekend: a new low point for Fox News, where questioning the loyalty of a veteran like Tammy Duckworth (D) is considered quality journalism--not because Ms. Duckworth has shown herself to be untrustworthy, but simply because it's more important to show disdain for her Party than respect for her sacrifice.
Allen West is an classless, bigoted idiot. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quick Note: Welcome #19!

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) announced that he will not challenge Federal Judge John E. Jones III's ruling that the state's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutionl.  While saying that his personal belief remains that marriage should be between a man and a woman, he called any appeal "extremely unlikely to succeed."

Governor Corbett's decision makes Pennsylvania the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage.  It follows Oregon which became the 18th such state on Monday when state officials declined to appeal a like ruling.

This week's addition of Oregon and Pennsylvania to the states where same-sex marriage is legal, means that nearly 44% of Americans now live in a place where same-sex couples are free to marry the person they love.

Judge Jones concluded his ruling by comparing same-sex marriage laws to the result of Brown v. Board of Education which challenged the idea of separate but equal.  He said "'separate' has thankfully faded into history and only 'equal' remains."

Since the beginning of the year, federal judges in ten states as well as a state judge in Arkansas have ruled against bans on same-sex marriage.  Decisions in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Idaho are currently under appeal.  
At least one of those cases is expected to reach the Supreme Court, which will not be able to hide behind a "sort of " decision this time.  Last year's ruling against DOMA was a good first step, but now it's time to finish the job.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quick Note: The National Organization for Marriage Has a Little Math Problem

The National Organization for Marriage is a group dedicated to denying same-sex couples the right to marry.  The NOM just saw its attempt to put itself in the middle of the Oregon same-sex marriage case foiled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District:   details here
It now finds itself in hot water in Maine.
From The Associated Press:
"A national anti-gay marriage group that helped defeat Maine's same-sex marriage law in 2009 may be fined more than $50,000 and ordered to reveal its donors, after investigators with the Maine Ethics Commission said Monday that its failure to register as a ballot question committee and file campaign finance reports was a significant violation of the law...The group gave nearly $2 million to the political action committee Stand for Marriage Maine, 64 percent of the PAC's total expenditures, the report said.  State law requires groups to register as ballot question committees if they raise or spend more than $5000 to influence a state ballot question."
The Commission will hold a hearing on May 28 and the National Organization for Marriage says they will argue that they complied with all applicable laws; but I don't see how they can be excused for overspending by over $1.95 million.  That's quite an error in simple arithmetic for the Ethics Commission to accept. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quick Note: Pennsylvania Joins the Rest of the Northeast in Welcoming Same-Sex Marriage

On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage. 

While there have been near daily reports of these discriminatory laws being found unconstitutional in state after state, it is notable that, in this case, the judge was one appointed by President George W. Bush and has a record of conservative decisions.

"The issue we resolve today is a divisive one.  Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage.  However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional...We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

Judge Jones did not include a stay in his decision, suggesting instead that same-sex couples in the Keystone State may be able to begin marrying immediately. "By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth."

Governor Tom Corbett (R), an often out-spoken opponent of equal marriage rights is expected to seek a stay from the Court of Appeals, though he will not find any assistance in his state's Attorney General's office.  It has been nearly a year since Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) announced that she would not defend the ban.
The recent spate of exclusionary marriage laws being overturned by federal judges is giving my "Gay-Marriage Rainbow" pic quite a workout.  I don't mind, not even a teensy bit.

Quick Note(s): Same-Sex Marriage -- Oregon Sees Equality, Arkansas Sees Incest

First, the good...

On Monday, Federal Judge Michael McShane overturned Oregon's 2004 ban on same-sex marriage.  No stay was issued, nor is one likely to be.  Unlike recent decisions in other states, no organization or individual has been recognized by the circuit's Court of Appeals as having legal standing to argue against Judge McShane's decision.  

Portland registrars were ready for his decision and within minutes of his announcement, licenses to same-sex couples were being issued and marriages were taking place.
Special praise should be given to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for refusing to recognize groups like the National Organization for Marriage, which has no local presence in Oregon.  They wanted to file an appeal against Judge McShane's decision.  The Court denied their request, saying that Oregon should be permitted to decide this issue without outside interference.

And then, the bad...
Arkansas (revisited)

On May 9, Judge Chris Piazza overturned Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage.

Within days, the State Supreme Court ruled that his decision did not overturn a state law that prohibited clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, so without licenses, there could be no marriages.  On Thursday, May 15, Judge Piazza expanded his original decision to include that state law. 

Arkansas' Supreme Court told opponents of Judge Piazza's ruling that it would not issue a stay; then on Friday, without explanation or warning, the Court reversed its decision and did issue a stay.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel praised the stay saying Judge Piazza's ruling was causing confusion at the county level where county officials seemed to believe that the Judge's decision made it legal for a man to marry his brother.  
Oh, come on!
The marriages licenses issued during the past week are likely to be upheld as valid by federal authorities as has happened in similar cases in other states.  Whether Arkansas will recognize them is not clear.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19 - Monday Quote

The religious right continues it's crusade of complaints against Neil Degrasse Tyson's TV program COSMOS, finding something to hate about it every week. I have to wonder, if they dislike the program so much, why are they still watching?  It's a program about science, so why are they enraged over the subject matter? Instead of ranting and demanding equal time on his program to present their point of view, (imagine if Mr. Grasse demanded equal time on Pat Robertson's show), why not just stop watching?  

This week, they are upset that, in his recent program on electricity, Mr. Tyson explained radio waves and how birds' brains are wired to use the earth's electromagnetic field to help them stay on course during yearly migrations. Yes, they found even this to be onerous.  Electricity is anti-Christian.  Who knew...besides the Amish?

Mr Grasse's response to their continuing fixation on his program is the best:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Billionaire Activist Takes on the Koch-Aligned Anti-Climate League

Tom Steyer and his wife, "Kat" Taylor

Tom Steyer is a retired hedge fund manager, an environmental activist and a billionaire.  The latter has allowed him to give millions of dollars to climate causes and to those candidates and legislators who support those interests. 

Republicans are not happy.  

what eye thynk:  Republicans being unhappy with anyone who recognizes climate change as a scientific fact should not surprise anyone.  It is the REASONING behind their unhappiness with Mr. Steyer that defies all logic.

It is a fact that Mr. Steyer has said he plans to give $100 million to support environmentally aware  legislators and candidates for office.  So far he and his wife have given $5 million to the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to ensuring that Democrats keep control of the Senate, in the hope that the scientific truth of climate change will have a fighting chance of being recognized.

Mr. Steyer also funds a super PAC of his own creation:  NextGen Climate Action.  The amount of money he has donated is easily traced since, unlike Republican money men who often choose to give their millions to political non-profits, (which we are expected to believe are "social welfare" organizations where disclosing donors is not required by law), Super PACS must release the names of their donors.  To date, NextGen Climate Action has profited from Mr. Steyer's generosity to the tune of an additional $6 million.

When the bi-partisan energy efficiency bill failed in the Senate last week, despite initially having the overwhelming support of both parties, Republicans say that Mr. Steyer was largely at fault.  

Their reasoning here is a bit obtuse.They want us to overlook the fact that, after tortuous compromises reached by both parties to get the bill into its final form, Republican Senators decided, at the last minute, that it still wasn't enough for them.  They insisted that an amendment be added that would make approval of the Keystone XL pipeline MANDATORY. House Majority Leader Harry Reid refused, and rightfully so, saying that the GOP was essentially reneging on a deal they had spent weeks reaching.  When the vote on the bill failed, Republicans claimed that it was the millions of dollars Mr. Steyer had spent lobbying Democrats against approving Keystone that had doomed the popular bill.  The Republican last minute wrench-in-the-works amendment and the refusal of all but one Republican to vote in favor of the bill without the Keystone amendment had nothing to do with it.  

Senate Republican leadership is now calling Mr. Steyer a "one-man special interest group" using his vast stores of money to halt environmental progress on the Senate floor.

Has someone stolen all the mirrors from the Republican side of the Capitol building?  Taking into consideration the amount of money spent by the "TWO-man special interest group" (otherwise known as the Koch brothers) in lobbying Congress to block any new environmental regulations and to promote the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Republican response to Mr. Steyer's activism is an awe-inspiring--and totally unself-aware--example of audacious bravado.

Republicans seem shocked by the fact that there is a billionaire who is not in their thrall, a money man who does not share their view of science as the domain of Satan, one who thinks that all Americans would be better served if businesses that pollute learned to live within some logical, earth-preserving boundaries.  

While I would dearly love to see the Senate's energy efficiency bill get passed, (Senator Reid says it will be revisited), I can't think of a better reason for it to fail.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eye Recommend --- House GOP Isn't Investigating a Scandal; It's Causing One

This is an excellent analysis of why the Republican Party is creating yet another committee--albeit this one is to be designated as "select"--to investigate Benghazi.  
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the creation of the new committee and then went on a rant about the lack of results, (well, actually, there were results, just not the ones the GOP wanted), of previous investigations including the I.R.S. and Fast and Furious.
(Any underlines are mine.) 
"His voice rising in anger and his face darkening to red, he went through the list of investigations that conservatives have pursued to frustratingly inconclusive ends over the last several years.

'When is the administration going to tell the American people the truth?  They've not told the truth about Benghazi, they've not told the truth about the I.R.S., they've not told the truth about Fast and Furious.'...

...Boehner probably got a little carried away...but the Speaker's tirade inadvertently gave away the game:  Republicans are just throwing garbage against the wall--any garbage they can come up with--in the hopes that something, anything, sticks...

...Boehner, with a rising voice and a red face, believes the White House has deceived the public about Benghazi.  Does the Speaker have any proof to bolster the condemnation?  No, but he has a new committee committed to finding something his party wants to hear.

Boener believes the White House has deceived the public about the IRS.  Does the Speaker have any proof to bolster this?  No, but he seems to think repeating bogus arguments makes them true."
Which has been the basic Republican modus operandi since January, 2009.
"But for Boehner to add Fast & Furious to the mix, a controversy that wrapped up in 2011, speaks to genuine desperation...

...There's no pretense ot legitimacy to any of this.  The Speaker put on a show...about stories that ran their course quite a while ago.  There have been no new revelations that fundamentally change our understanding about any of the allegations or justify Boehner getting hysterical.

So why has the political conversation turned to old, discredited 'controversies'? ...The combination of great 'Obamacare' news, dropping unemployment, and GOP frustration over the lack of legitimate White House scandals have created a toxic cocktail.

But what should arguably matter most to the public, is the fact that House Republicans have decided witch hunts and scandal mongering based on nothing is preferable to governing.  In American's name and on American's dime, GOP lawmakers have decided they won't pass immigration reform, won't come up with a health care plan, won't consider a credible jobs bill, won't raise the minimum wage, won't consider background checks, won't touch pay equity, won't vote on ENDA, won't create infrastructure jobs, and won't extend unemployment benefits.

They will, however, invest an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources into pursuing 'scandals' they know to be imaginary...

...We're left with little more than a do-nothing Congress wasting its time and ours, chasing a mirage.

Those looking for a political scandal are probably looking at the wrong end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Basically, the GOP wants to find dirt--major, dark, toxic, crisis creating dirt--they can throw at the President.  And since none was found in previous investigations, instead of conceding that such dirt doesn't exist, they intend to investigate over and over and over until they find a way to align the facts to their satisfaction.
The whole Republican focus on Benghazi reminds me of this famous quote from Albert Einstein:  "Insanity--doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Updates: Same-Sex Marriage in Idaho (a Stumble) and Arkansas (a Roadblock Removed)

Update:  Idaho 
Yesterday, I wrote about Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale's decision to declare Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Judge Dale said that the state was not likely to prevail in any appeal attempt and did not to issue a stay on her opinion, but said same-sex couples would be permitted to marry in Idaho beginning today at 9:00AM.  

The three judge panel that comprises the U.S. Court of Appeals for that state has over-ruled Judge Dale and issued a temporary stay to give the state of Idaho time to decide if they will, in fact, appeal the judge's decision.
A step backward, but only a small one...more like a stumble to the side. Disappointing, but not unexpected and not insurmountable.

Update:   Arkansas
Last Saturday, I wrote about another same-sex marriage case, this one in Arkansas.

In this case, Judge Chris Piazza also ruled that a state ban on same-sex marriage did not pass the constitutionality sniff-test.  He also did not believe that the state would prevail on an appeal and said same-sex marriages would be permitted to go forward in Arkansas immediately.

While some state offices did issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and some marriages did go forward, most state clerks declared they would refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples, stating that they were protected by an Arkansas state law that prohibited them from doing so. The Arkansas Supreme Court agreed with them and halted any additional licenses from being issued.  They ruled that Judge Piazza's decision did not address the Arkansas state law banning government clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; and without a license, the marriages could not continue.

Yesterday, Judge Piazza took care of that little roadblock by expanding his initial decision to include that prohibition, saying that the law prohibiting the issuance of such marriage licenses was also unconstitutional.  
Take that!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quick Note: And Another State's Ban Bites the Dust!

Yesterday, U.S. Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale declared Idaho's laws and 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional.  In her opinion she said that the laws and  amendment failed to live up to the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment guarantee of equal treatment.

"Idaho's marriage laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental right to marry and relegate their families to a sitgmatized second-class status without sufficient reason for doing so.  These laws do not withstand any applicable level of constitutional scrutiny."

Judge Dale did not issue a stay with her decision.  Same-sex couples in Idaho can begin marrying at 9:00AM on Friday.

State representatives have not announced whether they will appeal the judge's decision.
So happy for my friends in Idaho!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Center Ring at the Republican Circus

CENTER RING AT THE REPUBLICAN CIRCUS, by the New York Times Editorial Board --
This recent New York Times editorial does an excellent job of exposing the desperation that currently seems to be ruling Washington's Republican leadership.
"The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal.  Half the House has asked to 'serve' on the committee, which is understandable since it's the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.

They won't pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration.  (Last) Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend 'such sums as may be necessary' to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration's crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can't because there wasn't."
When earlier investigations found that liberal groups' tax-free status were also investigated by the IRS and that IRS middle management had designed the criteria for deciding which groups were targeted without input from the White House, that should have ended this; but, our modern Republican Party has never been one to let a little thing like facts get in the way of a public hissy fit.
"Both actions stem from the same impulse: a need to rouse the most fervent anti-Obama wing of the party and keep it angry enough to deliver its donations and votes to Republicans in the November elections."
Republicans, especially those in the House, seem to think their job is, not to pass legislation or to serve the people in their home districts in any way, but to get re-elected...period.  Nothing need be accomplished between elections; the only goal is to extend their stay in Washington.
"For a while it seemed as if the Affordable Care Act would perform that role, but Republicans ran into a problem when the country began to realize that it was not destroying American civilization but in fact helping millions of people.

Party leaders needed something more reliable, so they went back and revived two dormant scandals from last year, the embers of which were faithfully tended by Republican adjuncts on Fox News and talk radio.  Their hope is to show that the administration is corrupt and untrustworthy, and if Hillary Rodham Clinton also gets roughed up in the process, so much the better."
Personally, I believe "roughing up" Hillary Rodham Clinton is the primary reason for their re-focusing on Benghazi.  There is a presidential election coming up and she scares the Begeezus out of Republicans.
"Four Americans, including the United States ambassador, died in Benghazi, and their deaths have been crassly used by Republicans as a political cudgel, wildly swung in the dark.  They have failed to provide proof for any number of conspiracy theories about the administration's failures, including the particularly ludicrous charge from Representative Darrell Issa that Mrs. Clinton, then secretary of state, told the Pentagon to 'stand down' and not help defend the American compound. 

In fact, investigations by two congressional committees, (including one run by Republicans) found that there was never any kind of 'stand-down order' or request.  But Mr. Issa and others keep repeating it because, for their purposes, the facts don't matter...

...Democrats who are now debating whether to participate in the committee shouldn't hesitate to skip it.  Their presence would only lend legitimacy to a farce.

Similarly, the Justice Department should not press Ms. Lerner's contempt citation before a grand jury.  She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at a hearing last year and refused to testify, but Republicans claim, without foundation, that she waived those rights by first proclaiming her innocence.  Her refusal, they said, was contemptuous of Congress."
Republicans exclusive focus on building roadblocks to anything proposed by the Democrats is a true example of being "contemptuous of Congress"; but they are so hate-filled at the reality of a Democrat living in the White House--and a BLACK Democrat at that, that they can't see their own contempt for what it is.  
"Little nuisances like constitutional rights or basic facts can't be allowed to stand in the way when House Republicans need to whip up their party's fury."
The Republican Party has no true platform to campaign on.  Their only focus for President Obama's entire tenure has been to tear down anything he proposed--with no regard for the proposal's merit.   With blind obedience to their vacuous leadership and with nothing positive of their own to offer, they have no choice but to continue their focus on negativity. 
A comment posted on the New York Times website regarding this editorial should serve as a warning, but I doubt anyone on the right will take notice:  from Mike in Arlington, Va -- I suppose someone has already pointed out that Benghazi rhymes with Kamikazi (sic).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quick Note: Virginia Court Takes Another Step in the Same-Sex Marriage Samba

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit heard the case brought against Virginia's 2006 voter-mandated ban of same-sex marriage this week--the case originally decided for the proponents by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen in February.  One judge acknowledged that their decision would be only a steppingstone on the way to a Supreme Court hearing.

The three judges on the randomly selected panel seemed divided. 

Judge Roger Gregory compared the ban on same-sex marriage to Virginia's interracial marriage ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1967.  "The essence of marriage is the individual's choice to marry the person they choose."

Judge Paul Niemeyer indicated that he believes same-sex relationships are a "brand new" marriage category that states may choose to welcome or to prohibit.

Judge Henry Floyd asked the lawyers defending Virginia's same-sex marriage ban why the state should refuse to recognize marriages performed legally in other more welcoming states.

Two organizations are involved in defending Virginia's ban: The Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Civil Liberties Union.  
Why is is that organizations dedicated to denying freedom to some segment of our society always seems to have "freedom" or "liberty" in their name?  Can they not see the irony?
David Austin Nimocks, a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom argued that the state's ban was needed to protect Virginia's children.  If same-sex couples were permitted to marry, he said "it is likely that, over time, fewer man-woman couples having or raising children will marry, that marriages will become less durable, and that fewer children will be raised in stable homes headed by their mother and father."
These are two of those anti-same-sex marriage arguments that make absolutely no sense.  If you're a heterosexual couple and you want to marry, how would allowing a gay couple the same right obstruct your choice?  Do opponents of same-sex marriage believe that heterosexual couples will just refuse to marry out of spite?
And the "marriages will become less durable" argument makes even less sense.  Are we supposed to believe that married heterosexual couples will look at married same-sex couples and think "Gee, I wish I were gay.  Let's get divorced so we can give that life-style a try?"
I'm all for intelligent debate on any issue; but there is nothing intelligent on the anti-same-sex marriage side here. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We Need More Darwin's Witnesses!

what eye thynk:  Perhaps our approach to getting uber-conservative Republicans, (you know the ones I mean--they believe the earth was created 6000 years ago, that man was created wholly formed and climate change is a liberal plot), to accept that science is important has been wrong all along.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Quick Note: Another State Loses Its Fight Against Marriage Equality

Late yesterday, Judge Chris Piazza of the Arkansas Sixth District Court struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage.  In his ruling he said, "Arkansas marriage laws discriminate against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because they do not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest necessary to support even a rational-basis review....(It is) an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality."

Judge Piazza did not issue a stay on his decision, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying immediately.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) said he supports marriage equality, but in his capacity as Attorney General he must defend the law and so he will file an appeal.
Opponents of same-sex marriage rights have held a losing hand for months now.  Not one case brought before a federal judge has been decided in the opponent's favor. This does not make me sad.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Quick Note Digest: Republican Anti-ACA Round-up (Spoiler Alert: It's Not Going Too Well)

1.  Pennsylvania resident Dean Angstadt is a Republican's Republican.  When Mr. Angstadt, who already had a pacemaker, found he also had a faulty heart valve, he was determined to work as long as possible and save the money needed to pay for his surgery, no ACA for him.  "I don't read what the Democrats have to say about it because I think they're full of it."

Unfortunately, his health deteriorated, making it impossible for him to continue working.  He needed private health insurance that would not penalize him for having a pre-existing condition.  Still, Mr. Angstadt refused saying he just "didn't trust this Obamacare."

Finally, family and friends convinced him that the ACA was the only chance he had to stay alive. He signed up, paid his first premium of $26.11 and, at the end of March, had the surgery to replace his faulty heart valve. 

"Not only did (the ACA) save my life, it's going to give me a better quality of life.  For me, this isn't about politics.  I'm trying to help other people who are like me, stubborn and bullheaded, who refused to even look.  From my own experience, the ACA is everything it's supposed to be and, in fact, better than it's made out to be.  A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA."
People are "misinformed about the the ACA?"  Gee, how did that happen? 
It is inevitable that there will be more newly-minted Republican supporters of the ACA like Mr. Angstadt.  The dawning realization that their party has been lying to them all along just may be Republican's worst nightmare.

2.  Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) is facing a tough re-election fight and his campaign is heavily invested in anti-ACA rhetoric.    

He recently visited a Southern Florida senior center for an ACA roundtable.  Expecting to take away horror stories of reduced Medicare Advantage coverage, Mr. Scott left empty-handed.  

The 20 seniors who participated reported they were largely happy with their Medicare and ACA coverage and had no negative stories to share.  When asked if they'd seen any changes in their Medicare plans, one lady replied, "Not really."  Others replied they were "very happy", or had "no problems" with it.  One couple said they were "very pleased." 

Harvey Eisen, 92, told the governor he wasn't sure "if, as you say," Obamacare has resulted in cuts to Medicare.  He reported seeing no difference in his coverage.  

Struggling to find some point he could rail against, Mr. Scott asked if they were finding that doctors were opting out of Medicare under the ACA, most said "No."

Ruthlyn Rubin, 66, pointed out that people too young for Medicare need the coverage they are getting from the ACA.  Remember, she told the Governor, "People were appalled at Social Security. They were appalled at Medicare when it came out.  It think these major changes take some people back...That's wrong to me."
I'm willing to bet that Mr. Scott wished he had not invited the media to this event.

3.  And finally, this week, House Republicans called representatives of the health insurance industry to testify before one of their endless committees.  Expecting another forum to support their anti-ACA campaign arsenal, Republicans were met with an entirely different narrative.

These health insurer executives told the committee that...
  1. No, government has not taken over their industry. Health insurers are still in charge.
  2. No, stock prices did not drop; in fact, they have gone up.
  3. No, they would not endorse the Republican claim that premiums will go up sharply next year.  They are expected to remain steady and in some cases decrease.
  4. No, federal subsidy payments to help the poor and middle class purchase insurance have not been delayed.  They are already being received.
Unable to accept the facts voiced by the insurance executives, Representative Michael Burgess (R-Texas) complained to the media that no one "wanted to be forthcoming."
Oh, come on!  Not forthcoming?  Really?  So now Republicans want us to believe that the insurance industry is lying in order to show support for the ACA?  Where else would health insurance executives be more likely to vent against the Affordable Care Act than in front of a Republican led we-hate-Obamacare gathering? 
Though I suppose it is a much easier stand to take than admitting they are wrong. Think of the cost of reprinting all that campaign material!
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) put it another way: "These companies were not the biggest supporters of the law.  They still oppose many provisions, but they do not live in a Republican echo chamber.  They live in the real world."
And when it comes to the "real world," Republicans can't get a visa.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Are Republicans Becoming Western Mullahs?

As Americans, we talk about defending human rights in the Middle East, we talk about the plight of women in the Middle East, we talk about the violence that seems to be endemic to Islamic countries and we condemn those societies.  We find fault with their form of government, a government based on and dictated by a fundamentalist religion; and we look down on all of it as though we were more evolved, more moral.  

But when you look at today's Republican Party, you see a party dedicated to denying basic human rights to gays--in the name of the Christian religion.  A party that wants to take away a woman's right to make her own health care decisions--in the name of the Christian religion.  A party that believes the right to bear arms is protected by the Christian God. A party that believes federal law should be bent to conform to a corporation's Christian beliefs.  And a party that finds no fault with a state declaring Christianity the "official" religion.

---> RANDOM THOUGHT:  Look in the mirror, Republican Party.  Look in the mirror.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Quick Note: Minimum Wage Workers Get Bupkes, Senators Get a Raise

In case you still harbor any lingering hope that the Republican Party is looking out for your welfare, think about this:

Last week, 41 Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule to block a vote on raising the federal minimum wage.

These same 41 Senate Republicans will be getting a $2800.00 cost-of-living pay increase on January 1, 2015.
Because, you know, it's impossible to properly provide for your family on a base salary of only  $174,000/year.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Quick Note: Republicans Release ACA Stats---and They're True!

Did you hear about the latest Affordable Care Act statistics that the Republican Party is using as campaign material?  (That's like stand-up-comic material, but not as funny.)

It seems that, while Democrats are bragging of the millions of people who flocked to ACA portals at the last minute, calling it a success for the President's signature health care act, Republicans have found a way to turn that positive into a negative.  They are using government statistics released last week to show that millions of people signed up for health care, but never paid their first premium. 

For a change of pace, this GOP claim is absolutely true

What they're not telling you is those millions of unpaid premiums--the vast majority of which are for those who signed up for health insurance after March 15--aren't due yet
Details are important.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5 - Monday Quote

My favorite quote from this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner...

monday quote:  Let's face it, Fox, you'll miss me when I'm gone.  It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya. (Barack Obama, President of the United States, 1961 -     )

As an addendum to yesterday's Benghazi post...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Quick Note: Beleaguering Benghazi -- Oversight vs. Armed Forces

Last week, Retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell gave testimony before the Republican led House Oversight Committee, "There are accounts of time, space and capability, discussions of the question, 'could we have gotten there in time to make a difference?' Well, the discussion is not in the 'could or could not' in relation to time, space and capability--the point is we should have tried.  As the saying goes: 'Always move to the sound of the guns."

When asked if the White House had ever issued orders to "go save the people in Benghazi", Mr. Lovell replied "Not to my knowledge, sir."
(Signal the Republican happy-dance music.)
In the latest effort to use the Benghazi tragedy for political gain, the Republican led committee immediately seized on his testimony as proof that the White House was to blame for the four American deaths there.

In an attempt to take the air out of the Republican jubilation over Mr. Lovell's testimony, Representative Gerald Connolly, (D-Virginia) asked for some clarification.  "There might be some who, for various and sundry reasons, would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you're testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn't utilize."

Mr. Lovell, a former deputy director of intelligence at Africa Command who was on duty in Germany at the time of the Benghazi attack, replied, "That is not my testimony.  No, sir.  What I'm speaking to is that, as a nation, we should try to do more."
Which sounds a lot like trying to play both sides of the argument to me...otherwise known as covering-my-butt.
Buck McKeon (R-California), chairman of the House Armed Forces Committee--a man certainly in a position to know whether military intervention could or could not have made a difference--told the investigating committee that Brigadier General Lovell was an unreliable witness.     
"(He) did not serve in a capacity that gave him reliable insight into operation options available to commanders during the attack....The Armed Services Committee has interviewed more than a dozen witnesses in the operation chain of command that night, yielding thousands of pages of transcripts, e-mails and other documents.  We have no evidence that Department of State officials delayed the decision to deploy what few resources (they) had available to respond."

Taking into account his own committee's investigation, along with the months and months of testimony that fellow Republican Darrell Issa's investigation has collected, Mr. McKeon said, "I'm pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing happened, and how quickly it dissipated, we probably couldn't have done more than we did."

Ignoring Mr. McKeon's assessment, Mr. Issa has decided to subpoena Secretary of State John Kerry and, not to be outdone in the GOP's on-going witch hunt, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced he plans to appoint an additional, more select committee to further investigate Benghazi.
Because, if they can't keep their frenzied search for a Benghazi conspiracy alive, they're afraid that Hillary Clinton will be moving into the White House in 2017.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Christians Only, Please

Roy Moore
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court

Speaking in Mississippi at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, Justice Roy Moore said that the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment applies only to Christians.  He explained it this way:

"Buddha didn't create us, Mohammed didn't create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures (that created America.)  They didn't bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship.  Let's get real, let's go back and learn our history."
So, in Mr. Moore's America, Christians are #1 and everyone else is relegated to the Realm of the Great Unwashed.  I guess the Biblical admonition to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" isn't all that important in Mr. Moore's church.  And as for learning our history, it appears his elementary school forgot the chapter on "All men are created equal." 
Why do I feel that if Roy Moore were to encounter the Good Samaritan, he would advise him to keep walking?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Quick Note: More Communities Raise the Minimum Wage While Congress Balks--Again.

Minnesota, Maryland, Connecticut and now Hawaii.  Our 50th state has passed a bill that will raise their minimum wage to $10.10/hour by 2018.

On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) presented a plan to increase his city's minimum wage to $15.00/hour.  His plan boasts broad political support and a coalition of labor and business groups are joining in the push to make sure his plan succeeds. 

And then we have the U.S. Congress, where Senate Republicans blocked the vote on whether to raise the hourly rate for the poorest workers.  Just one Republican stood up to his Party and voted with Democrats on the wage issue:  Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.  He said that he felt the measure needed some changes; but at least he was willing to do the job he was elected to do by signaling his willingness to talk about it!

A poll conducted by Bloomberg just a few weeks ago, showed that 69% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hour.  Despite obvious public support for the increase, Republicans continue to argue the unproven opinion--one that lacks the support of many economists- that it would hurt businesses and jobs.   
Apparently no one in the Republican Party has bothered to talk to business owners in the Seattle area; but then I sincerely doubt they talk to anyone but themselves and their well-monied handlers.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Tuesday shows that 49% of Americans favor the Democrats' view on the minimum wage issue over that held by the GOP. 
But then, when was the last time the GOP listened to the people they're supposed to represent?  If you're not waving large sums of campaign money in their faces, they seem particularly myopic.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) appears to want to believe that Americans struggling to survive on poverty wages should blame the Democrats.  "(Democrats) seem to think they can coast on talking points and stale ideas--that the American people haven't been paying attention to their recent dismal record at actually helping the people they claim to care about."
Would that "dismal record" include protecting millions of Americans with health insurance?  
History says that Republicans are more apt to vote in mid-term elections than Democrats.  With that knowledge, Republicans are already salivating at the thought of being rewarded for doing nothing for the average citizen by seeing Republican voters return them to the majority in the Senate.
We can't let that happen.  It is time to tell the GOP they can no longer sit in Congress and collect a hefty paycheck while ignoring 99% of the American people.
The minimum wage is only one issue. If we want clean air and water, equal rights for women, equitable voting rights, immigration reform, improved infrastructure, fair taxation and continued health care, we have to tell them, "This is OUR country too."  Spring primaries are happening now.  VOTE!  It's good practice for November.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

NRA Nixes Smart Gun Technology

Every week there is a story about some child accidentally killing another child with a gun that was left unsecured by a careless gun owner.  Armatix, a Southern California gun lock company owned by Belinda Padilla, has developed a smart gun that is designed to work only for the gun's owner. 

To activate the gun, the owner must enter a 5 digit PIN into a radio frequency watch.  The gun disables itself if it is more than 10 inches away from the radio signal.

James Mitchell, owner of the Oak Tree Gun Club near Los Angeles, was an early supporter of the smart gun.  He provided Ms. Padilla with a specially decorated lane at his club range where she could demonstrate the gun for club members.  Branded sweatshirts and jackets could be purchased in the club's gun shop, and a sign outside the front door advertised that sales of the 22 calibre pistol were planned to begin this Spring. Mr. Mitchell was quoted by the Washington Post as saying the iP1 smart gun "could revolutionize the gun industry."

Then the NRA got involved.

what eye thynk:   The NRA and its rabid followers saw, not a safety feature, but another government conspiracy.  Wayne LaPierre said the gun would open "the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology."

Gun enthusiasts, taking their cue from the NRA, called for a boycott of the Oak Tree Gun Club., a gun owner Internet forum, called for a vigilante-style investigation of both Oak Tree and Armatix.  One poster wrote "I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans."  

Shortly afterwards, Ms. Padilla, who has been the target of late night phone calls and has seen pictures of the address where she maintains a P.O. box appear on social media sites, arrived at the gun club to find her booth painted over, her signage gone and all her branded merchandise removed from the shop's shelves. "Honestly, I was in disbelief," she said.  "It's like I never existed."  James Mitchell now denies ever having had any connection to Ms. Padilla or her smart gun. 

"Right now, unfortunately, these organizations that are scaring everybody have the power," Ms. Padilla said.  "All we're doing is providing extra levels of safety to your individual right to bear arms.  And if you don't want our gun, don't buy it.  It's not for everyone."

When people like Wayne LaPierre read of a child whose life may have been saved if the loaded gun found under her uncle's sofa cushion had been Ms. Padila's iP1 smart pistol instead of an NRA approved, unlocked handgun, do they feel anything at all for that family?  How out-sized is their self-absorption?

Fortunately, there are people like entrepreneur and gun-safety advocate Ron Conway, who do not see gun safety as anti-ethical to the Second Amendment. Mr. Conway is offering $1 million in prize money for developers of advanced gun safety designs and technology through a U.S. Justice Department grants program. 
Organizations like the NRA seem to believe they hold the moral high ground in condemning people like Ron Conway or Belinda Padilla.  But when your crusade attracts people who brag they could gleefully "level the life" of gun safety advocates, your ground is neither high nor moral.