Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Last Call For The Red Stick

The latest example of the post-Katrina permanent minority underclass in Bobby Jindal's Louisiana?  The rich, white area of Baton Rouge is proposing seceding and taking the city's tax base with it to form a new city.

The predominantly white and wealthy residents of the southern area of Baton Rouge have proposed seceding from the city proper and incorporating into a new one to be called “St. George.” 
The movement began as an effort to create a new school district, but after the state legislature repeatedly mothballed its proposals — claiming that they could not approve an independent school district that was unaffiliated with a city — organizers shifted their energies to the creation of “St. George.” 
The new city would be the fifth largest in the state, with over 107,000 residents, and would include two of the largest tax revenue bases in the state: Perkins Rowe and the Mall of Louisiana. A study by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber concluded that Baton Rouge residents “will be disproportionately paying taxes to the proposed municipality,” given city governance’s reliance on sales tax revenues. 
If the succession were successful, the study claimed, it “could entail the dissolution of the present system of governance.”

But this is exactly what Jindal's plan to cut property taxes and raise sales taxes was intended to do:  shift the tax burden from the wealthy (with their wealth in property, stocks, and savings) and shift it to the poor (who have to pay sales taxes on everyday consumption).  The proposed St. George municipality would mean that Baton Rouge residents would be paying sales taxes at the shopping district in St. George, and all of the benefit would go to the resident of St. George.

But nobody dares call it "wealth redistribution" or anything.  And if Jindal has his way, all the state's income and corporate taxes would be replaced by sales taxes.  The plan backfired only because Republicans realized voters would have revolted if they went along with the plan.

The problem with St. George goes deeper than taxes, however.

The demographic shift the incorporation of “St. George” would create is almost as troubling as the economic difficulties. According to recent study on the demographic impact of Hurricane Katrina, the city of Baton Rouge accepted over 200,000 displaced New Orleans residents, the majority of whom were black and settled in the northern, urban parts of the city. 
The “St. George” proposal would create a poor, black, and urban Baton Rouge and a wealthy, white, and suburban “St. George.” Supporters of the new city brush off such complaints. “Typically, the only comments you hear are those that try to create fear,” one of the leaders of the movement, Norman Browning said. “They never support it with any documentation to make those claims.” 
He did not address any of the specifics of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s study.

Taxpayer money went to create the improvements in southern Baton Rouge for everyone in the region.  Now they want to take those improvements and tell "those people" to get the hell out.  That's the way it's worked in America for 400 years.

All The Ladies Say What?

Ryan Cooper over at Washington Monthly makes a number of points on how the GOP could very well come to regret the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS case and its attack on birth control:

But the most striking fact when it comes to women and birth control is this one: 99 percent of sexually active women use it.

Pundits have often pointed out that historically, neither party tends to dominate the political system for very long. The reason for this is that, like how corporations exist to make money, political parties exist to win elections, and if the party keeps taking positions that alienate huge fractions of the electorate, then they’ll change those positions.

But the GOP isn’t doing this. After the 2012 defeat, driven in large part by being absolutely crushed in practically every minority demographic, Republicans halfheartedly tried to choke down an immigration reform bill to at least stop the bleeding. President Obama signaled his support, and the Senate passed a half-decent measure. But now reform looks dead because House Republicans refuse to let the Senate bill come up for a vote. For the GOP, it’s almost the worst of all worlds: a bill supported by all the prominent Democrats goes down due to extremist Republican intransigence. Now Democrats get to blame the GOP for breaking their promise, and quite possibly increase their share of the minority vote. It would have been better to not do anything.

He then ends with this:

Maybe if they lose women by 20 points in 2016, they’ll wise up.

To which I reply "If the GOP loses women by 20 points and wins men by 25, it's a GOP landslide in a midterm year."  They just have to keep it close among white women and win white men overwhlemingly.  The demographics will still allow this to happen, especially in a midterm election, and doubly so when the GOP is doing everything it can to suppress the minority vote in red states.  And even in 2016 if they can keep white women close and get 45% of the vote, there's nobody on the Dem side that's going to get 90%+ of the black vote to make up for that.

The practical upshot is they don't care if they can frame birth control as an Obama giveaway to "those people".  It's a small price to pay, as Megan McArdle says.  Small enough that enough women voters won't miss it when its gone, and besides, they'll just say "Well, *my* company wouldn't do that to *me*."

And when it happens, it'll just be time to blame Obama and "those people" for ruining it for everyone.

Meanwhile, In Syria...

And while the chemical weapons are being dealt with, the much larger problem of the Syrian civil war and millions of refugees remains, the UN is about to make life very uncomfortable for Bashar al-Assad.

A growing body of evidence collected by U.N. investigators points to the involvement of senior Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, in crimes against humanity and war crimes, the U.N.'s top human rights official said Monday.
Navi Pillay, who heads the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the scale and viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by both sides almost defies belief, and is being well documented by an expert U.N. panel of investigators.

"They've produced massive evidence," she told a news conference. "They point to the fact that the evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state."

But Pillay said the lists of suspected criminals are handed to her on a confidential basis and will remain sealed until requested by international or national authorities for a "credible investigation," and then possibly used for prosecution.

Pillay said she worries about striking the right balance in determining how long to keep the information secret. The lists "rightly belongs to the people who suffered violations," she said, but they also must be kept sealed "to preserve the presumption of innocence" until proper judicial probes can be done that could lead to trial.

In other words, the movement for Syrian regime change is about to get a major shot int he arm, and this time the world's not going to be able to look away.  With a formal declaration of war crimes against the Assad regime, somebody's going to have to go in there and get the guy out.

Well, unless Russia wants to play chicken with the UN some more, which would actually keep troops out of there.  Considering there's a very likely possibility those troops will be American, I'm thinking that some sort of deal for Assad's departure will be worked out.


If not, well, it's going to get ugly.


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