Saturday, March 9, 2013

Last Call

President Obama will never be good enough for the "progressives".

This week, amid the hullabaloo over President Barack Obama's Deficit Dinner Diplomacy, and Sen. Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster-cum-dissertation on drone strikes and civil liberties, financial news-watchers touted a milestone in their lives of Market Worship. We speak, of course, of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which on Tuesday hit an "all-time high" of 14,253.77. The good times rolled steady on through the week, and the Dow closed Friday at 14,397.07.

Of course, the notion that these were "record" highs was not, strictly speaking, true. As Jeff Cox as CNBC pointed out, "in inflation-adjusted dollars, the Dow would need to hit 15,731.54 to break the record." Nevertheless, the exciting new ordinal number sitting on the stock market index set off a chorus of hallelujahs. After all, this was the highest mark it had hit since October 2007. (Of course, if we recall correctly, it was about that time that all of our more recent tragic economic events began to occur.)

The fluctuations of the Dow are typically pored over, by the media, in the same way the ancient oracles pieced through the entrails of birds, seeking for whatever path leads to the most prosperity. And in the world of politics, partisans on both sides are quick to point to the Dow as generic confirmation that their policies are working. As long as the story suits their narrative, anyway. 

Authors Jason Linkins and Zach Carter continue on with their open contempt for President Obama, Democrats, the people who voted for them, the people who support them, and the people who seem to think that maybe there's hope.  Suckers!  Rubes!

I do notice there's one word missing from the article:  Bush.   And "GOP" doesn't get a mention until 80% of the way through the article:

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Dow is hitting this peak at a time when everyone in the world knows that the debate over the sequestration -- whose cuts have awesome recession-generating powers! -- has gone into vapor-lock, with the GOP refusing to compromise on raising revenues, through the very tax reform proposals that formed the basis of the party's recent presidential campaign. 

The GOP is far more responsible for the mess we're in, guys.  The functional depression we've been in?  That wasn't President Obama at the helm in 2006-2008.

Try again.

The Vagina Tax

Payday is rolling around. I’m going to look at my paycheck, and review the state and federal withholdings. I’ll grunt at my FICA and insurance costs. I won’t actually see a tax for having a vagina, but it will be there. I feel quite certain my employer practices fair pay, but in way too many cases women are not paid the same as male coworkers for doing the same job. For owning the same responsibilities. For living up to the same expectations.

I suppose some may look at this as a penis bonus instead of a vagina tax. Tomato, tomahto. Yesterday was  International Women’s Day, but before we go global I want to take a look at the United States. Women make seventy-seven cents on the man’s dollar. Not necessarily job for job, but this shows that while the glass ceiling may have cracked it is still firmly in place. Women’s rights are in the hands of politicians and courts, which is ridiculous in itself. Men don’t have to worry about sudden legislature telling them how they can treat their bodies if they were victims of a crime. Men don’t have to fear that they will have to pay more for certain medicines because a church down the road doesn’t approve. If a man is mugged, he isn’t judged for wearing a bright red shirt that clearly attracted the criminal.

If most men woke up in our world, they would take one look around and jump out a goddamn window.

The truly mind-boggling thing is that women aren’t a minority. We are the majority, by a few million. Yet we are consistently throughout history treated as inferior, weaker and less intelligent. Despite centuries of evidence to the contrary, the stereotype persists. Modern women rose to the challenge and proved their ability over and over without realizing it isn’t a matter of proof, it’s a matter of perspective. We can run faster, jump higher and work harder and if we’re really good little girls we might get a chance to break even. Until the parameters change, we can’t win.

Remember when I said I was going to get to the global perspective? Here it is: compared to the rest of the world, we have it relatively good here.

Happy International Women’s Day. Maybe by the next one there will be better things to report.

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

Freedom To Hate, Freedom To Discriminate, In The Bluegrass State

It was only a matter of time before Kentucky's legislation did something catastrophically moronic that will affect me personally.

“The Religious Freedom Act,” a bill created in response to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control coverage mandate, cleared Kentucky’s Senate Thursday night despite activists’ warning that it could topple years of civil rights progress in the state and “make discrimination legal.”

“[The] legislation could be used by an individual or entity under the guise of a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ to violate the constitutional and civil rights of other persons or organizations,” the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights warned on Tuesday. “In other words, it could make discrimination legal if the discrimination perpetrated is claimed to be due to ‘a sincerely held religious belief.’”

Despite the potential for abuse, state senators advanced House Bill 279 Thursday night by a vote of 29-6, leaving its fate in the hands of Gov. Steve Beshear (D).

Here's the fun part:  it's not just birth control you can object to.  It's basically anything.

If it does become law, Kentucky’s “Religious Freedom Act” could enable discrimination against more than just women seeking birth control. Civil rights advocates worry that landlords and employers could also use the law to justify discriminating against LGBT people and minorities as well, all in the name of “religious freedom.”

Or women.  Or other religions.  Or people who are overweight.  Or people who are short.  Or people who have kids.  How can you prove that the fact you hate LGBT people isn't a deeply held religious belief?  For a non-trivial number of Kentuckians, that's what they say they absolutely believe in.  I'm really hoping Dinosaur Steve can send this law packing, but given the massive vote totals in favor of the bill (82-7 in the state House, and 29-6 in the state Senate), a veto override is pretty much assured.

That leaves a court challenge to the bill.  I'm hoping we get it sooner rather than later, because the law is pretty much in direct violation of several Supreme Court rulings on religious freedom.

Then again, considering the Roberts court is siding with churches these days, a broad ruling in the Obamacare contraception coverage cases brought by religious organizations could indeed make Kentucky's law perfectly legal.  All it would take is five votes.  It would get four, easily.

A big clue could be the SCOTUS ruling on DOMA.  If the court decides that states do have the right to make their own decisions on discrimination, all bets are off.

We'll see.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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